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April 18th, 2012
By Scott Glatstein
According to a study by the Conference Board, marketplace strategy execution ranks high in the top 10issues that senior managers must face today. While many issues drive poor execution, they all appear to point to one major common factor: a lack of organizational preparedness to implement marketplace strategies as envisioned by those who conceived them.
For example, consumer electronics retail store A advertises great selection and low prices. Its customers are unperturbed if they don’t receive A+ service.
Their expectation is low prices not world-class service.
Store B advertises, “No question is left unanswered.” Customers entering this store expect great service. If sales associates are inattentive and customers receive no help when asking about a product, then the expectation remains unfulfilled. This means customers will return for future purchases.
Companies that spend their time developing a strategy need to follow through for the long term. Here are the top seven Strategy Activation Themes to Think About When Creating and Following Through with Your Marketplace Strategies:
- Understand that although a strategy may appear brilliant on paper, it is the implementation that is important. Failure to follow through can result when you allow your strategy to outstrip your organization’s capabilities. It can also happen when your employees do not understand your marketplace strategy or their expected behavior or when your company does not support the strategy’s delivery. You may also have conflicting success metrics and employee rewards. Find where the problem is and fix it immediately.
- Keep in mind that a promise, no matter what it entails, leads to customer expectations. Your strategy communicates intent. It’s a promise made to the marketplace. This promise creates expectations for your products and services that must be met if customers are to walk away satisfied.
- Remember to go beyond the promise and communicate Life Optimization Coaching Certification Program
tion: underline;”>how your organization will deliver on its marketplace promise. We live in skeptical times. These reasons to believe fine-tune expectations and add assurance that the company will follow through on its promise. Plus, it will provide internal direction for resource allocation, product development efforts and system design.
Recognize it’s the customer experience that differentiates one organization from another. The overall customer experience includes the sum total of all the little touch points your customers have with your organization. From the advertising messages and interaction with sales and customer-service personnel to monthly billing statements, your company’s products, services, and experiences must all reinforce the image desired in the marketplace.
Align employees. Your employees drive customer experiences. Promises can only be fulfilled if your employees understand it, believe it and are compensated well for fulfilling their roles.
Create business processes that reinforce your envisioned marketplace strategy. Internal and external business processes must support your strategy implementation. They must be mapped and traced, noting each step’s effect on the overall customer experience and the organization’s ability to fulfill its promises.
Give employees the right tools that enable their ability to be consistent with the desired marketplace image. These could be task tools to complete a task associated with a specific process step, information tools to provide critical information for accomplishing one’s job or communication tools to ensure everyone is on the same page. The tools must enable delivery of the promise and customer expectations.
Understand that successful marketplace implementation is difficult. It requires forethought, planning, and a relentless focus on your marketplace promise. Strategy activation is not an overnight fix, but a discipline that can help a company prepare for flawless marketplace implementation. The rewards of happy customers, energized employees, and a successful business are worth every ounce of effort demanded.
If you follow these seven tips, and invest in my book, “Strategy Activation: Keeping Promises to the Marketplace,” at http://www.strategyactivation.com, you will provide your organization with a head start in the right strategic direction.
August 8th, 2010
Or is Price the Only Thing That Matters?
Has the economic downturn minimized the importance of the Customer Experience?
In Chapter 5 of my book, Strategy Activation: How to Turn Your Vision into Marketplace Success, I talk about how important it is to improve your holistic customer experience to differentiate your company from your competitors. As products and services continue down the inexorable path toward commodification, it is the ongoing customer experience that drives customers to choose one vendor over another.
However, in the past two years, as the economic downturn has forced significant changes in customer behavior, many have questioned the importance of the overarching customer experience. These naysayers claim that in tough times price is the only thing that matters. Customers, they say, are more likely to accept a bad experience as long as they are getting a good deal. This perspective, however, is not confirmed by the data.
When Money is Tight, Customers Expect an Even Greater Customer Experience…
The most recent Harris Interactive Customer Experience Impact Report surveyed consumers on how they engage with companies both online and via phone, what they find frustrating, and how negative and positive customer experiences affect them.
They discovered these facts that are startling to most business owners today…
- 87% of the surveyed consumers stopped doing business with an organization or company because of a negative customer experience. That’s up from 68% reported just two years ago.
- Even during tough economic times, the significance of customer experiences does not dwindle. More than half (58%) of consumers polled said they will pay more for a better customer experience during a down economy.
- Consumers stated that the most important thing companies could do to encourage them to spend more is to improve the overall customer experience
So, it’s clear that even when finances are tight, people still value good service.
Why This Study’s Results Are Not Surprising…
When money is easy to come by customers are likely to be more forgiving. Consider this restaurant dining example…
When the economy was booming many couples found themselves dining out twice per week or more. With eight to ten dining-out occasions per month a single bad experience is easily forgotten. However, when belts tighten, monthly dining-out occasions may settle back to just two or three. With fewer opportunities to “splurge” on an evening out couples and families now demand that each experience justifies the expenditure of limited funds. Thus a bad experience like poor service, long wait times and cold food makes a bigger impression and stays with us longer.
Once you have a bad customer experience, you may wait months before you visit that restaurant again – and that’s if you ever go back. Plus, you’ll probably tell your family and friends about your experience. This will make them think twice before they visit that restaurant.
Real Proof That Bad Customer Experience News Travels Far…
A recently published Forrester Research report, “How Customer Experience Drives Word of Mouth” cites:
- Consumers tend to discuss bad experiences with more people than they discuss good ones
- Gen Xers, as a group, tend to tell the most people about a bad experience
- Gen Yers are the chattiest in general. They are more likely to tell someone about a good experience. They are also the most likely to share a bad experience.
So, don’t you think that you should find out right now exactly what your customers are saying about your organization’s performance over the past eighteen months?
Have their experiences diminished in the wake of corporate austerity?
As we begin to see the recession bottom out, now is the time to explore this issue; to find new ways to improve the customer experience; to ensure that your customers have only good things to say!
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March 19th, 2010
It is no wonder that very few companies enjoy customer loyalty nowadays. Consumers are skeptical of company promises. A “new” product is not really “new.” A great-looking item on an info-commercial works much differently than demonstrated. The beautifully designed hotel room pictured on the website leaves a lot to be desired.
This is why in my new book, “Strategy Activation: How to Turn Your Vision into Marketplace Success,” I show how your organization can build customer loyalty by delivering what is expected.
Why Making Promises Is Not Enough Anymore
The Loyalty Engagement Index by Brand Keys, a New York marketing consultancy, shows that consumer expectations climbed for a decade—up 28 percent. Yet, brands only kept up 7 percent of the time. The result: Customers were perpetually disappointed.
In 2007, this changed drastically.
Consumer expectations leveled off.
“Consumers are more realistic,” said Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff. “Their desires are now based on experience rather than expectation. Consumers who’ve been disappointed for so long seem to have surrendered.”
In other words, consumers now expect imperfect results from companies. They have become cynical and assume that certain things will likely not go their way. But don’t confuse expectation with acceptance. When the inevitable letdown occurs, they search elsewhere for a new product or service provider. Not a good situation.
Companies need to turn around these negative expectations. Making a promise is not enough to get people flocking to your door. You have to give them a credible promise and a reason to believe that your promise is not another empty one.
- You promise me speed? Why should I believe that you could actually deliver speed?
- You promise me luxury? How are you going to deliver luxury?
- You promise me safety and security? Can you really keep me safe?
How to Let Consumers Know Exactly How You Will Fulfill Your Promises
You have to communicate the “What” and the “How” to your prospects and customers. The promise is “What” you say you’re doing. The reason to believe is “How” you do it. For example:
- We will deliver speed by flying your packages overnight to your destination rather than truck them. (Fed Ex)
- We will deliver luxury by giving you the Heavenly Bed. (Westin Hotels)
- We will safeguard you with our Roll Over Protection System. (Volvo XC90)
Marketers call these the pillars of the promise. They give customers the additional details they need to make an informed decision.
For example, Marriott Hotel promises “Achievement Guests” (those driven to perform and who thrive on personal excellence) an environment that inspires their performance. That’s quite a promise. To back it up, Marriott developed three pillars to build credibility:
- Achieve. The hotel’s professional, performance-driven side offers well-lit, ergonomic work desks that easily move. This way guests can create the best work environment.
- Revive. The luxury offerings include aromatherapy bath products, 300-thread-count sheets, and high-definition TVs that guests can connect to personal devices such as iPods.
- Culture. The emphasis is on warm, friendly, sincere service built on their pledge to provide a refreshingly human touch in today’s hectic world.
How to Create a Compelling Brand Promise Supported by Convincing Evidence
Large hotel chains are not the only organizations developing strategic pillars to support their marketplace promises. Dunlop Tires promises performance. Here are the five credible reasons why you can believe that they deliver high-performance tires:
Reason #1: Innovative New Products. “New” to Dunlop consists of developing a different product: They don’t just make a small change to an existing product and call it “new.”
Reason #2: Linkage to the world’s most prestigious auto brands. Dunlop can point to prestigious automobile companies that use its tires, which builds credibility.
Reason #3: European heritage. This third reason to believe was based on its reputation as a performance leader in the fields of European automobiles and racing that played to the customers’ emotional connection with their cars.
Reason #4: Link to the racing circuits. Dunlop has a strong reputation in auto and motorcycle racing circuits in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan.
Reason #5: Cutting-edge website. The site dares to be different and continually changes to cater to automotive enthusiasts and their lifestyles.
This is why Dunlop Tires has superior customer loyalty.
How to Find the Right Marketplace Promise to Specifically Target Customers—Then Continually Deliver on It
Not all promises are created equal. Each organization carries its unique marketplace permissions and organizational competencies. Your best customer promise depends on several important factors:
- Is your promise compelling to customers, and does it distinguish you from competitors?
- What permissions and limits have customers placed on you? The marketplace has to believe in your ability to keep your promise.
- Do you have credible reasons for the customer to believe your promise? What assurances can you provide that your promise will be delivered in the marketplace?
- Can you consistently deliver on your promise?
- What current or new capabilities can support marketplace implementation?
Finding the right promise that resonates best with your target customers is the critical first step. But making empty promises is a futile and unprofitable exercise. Keeping promises made to the customer is the only way you will build customer loyalty. This is the new paradigm for success!
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