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Discover your customers ‘Job to be done’ with empathy interviews

People buy product & services to fulfill a need or for a ‘job-to-be-done’.
These jobs can vary tremendously:
Small things - pass the time while queuing; to regular tasks - pack a fast healthful lunch for my son to take to school; to the Self-fulfilling - buying a new premium watch.

Understanding why customers chose product A & not B is deeply related with the job this product is ntended to achieve in a given circumstance at both functional & emotional levels.
To uncover the insights that drive people’s behavior, relying on big data alone would only describe patterns & empirical correlations that often miss the true inner motivations. 
When asked directly, people rarely know what they want, which makes traditional Q&A interviews unsuccessful. To overcome this barrier, empathy interviewing focuses on establishing a regular conversation, which encourages subjects to speak from the heart and talk about what’s really important to them and reveal why they behave a certain way.
Like a therapist, skilled empathy interviewing can draw out what the subject really thinks and feels about the human experience. The information we extract will show you where your customers are coming from and how they experience your brand.

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The empathy map - One of the many mapping tools used by Brandcell


Observe users in their natural environment

When we pair this technique with other approaches, we gain a deeper sense of who your customers are and how you can deliver smart solutions:
Seeing your customers in a natural setting is an authentic approach that exposes not only which products they use, but also their feelings and utility for those products.it also gives you instant snapshots of the interactions they have with your touch points uncovering the irritations or frustrations they may experience.

Understanding customers’ insights is key to develop innovative solutions, differentiating your business from the crowd and build a meaningful conversation with your audience leading to true brand loyalty that generate lasting revenues.
 

For additional information on how Brandcell's research methods can benefit your organisation or for any other details, please email us at info@brand-cell.com or call us on 01 335417.

customer experiencebrandcell articlesconsumer behaviour human-centricityHuman-Centered DesignEmpathic researchEmpathy

How can you, in a tough economy, make the right decision, fast, while minimizing risk?

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The SPRINT is a quick & proven process that brings together customers, employees, management and designers in a joint effort to improve business experience, strategy & tactics.  Developed at Google Ventures, it’s a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more—packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.

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Working together in a sprint, you can shortcut the endless-debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week. Instead of deciding on a course of action on a product or service to understand if an idea is any good, you’ll get clear feedback from a realistic process. The SPRINT gives you a superpower: You can fast-forward into the future to get some insights & reactions, before making any expensive commitments.

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Brandcell consulting will be moderating the sessions. The ideal team will be composed of decision makers, finance, marketing, customer service, product/service designer/manager and IT/logistic executives.
 

For additional information on how the SPRINT method can fit to your organisation's case, to book your session or for any other details, please email us at info@brand-cell.com or call us on 01 335417.

business designbrandcell articlesdubaiperformanceKnowledgeHuman-Centered DesignDesign Thinking

Brandcell Consulting has conducted a survey to investigate what consumers believe are the qualities of great service. The online questionnaire revealed the way services make Lebanese consumers feel and what matters to them most about the quality of service delivered to them. 

These are the 4 best and worst performing sectors as perceived by Lebanese customers.

 

The Best Sectors in Customer Service:

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1.Food & Restaurant

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2. Hotel

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3. Leisure (Cinema, Gyms, etc...)

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4. Retail

 

The Worst Sectors in Customer Service:

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1. Public Sector

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2. Telecommunication

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3. Banking

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4. Air Travel

The full study has already been published on the website, and can be read in its entirety here
customer servicerankingsbrandcell articlesretailconsumer trendsperformanceconsumer behaviour

Experience design: An in-depth guide to what this mix of branding, UX, service design and more really means

 

Leading studios and designers discuss what experience design is and how it can let you provide more for your clients.

Nailing down precisely what experience design is and how it relates to design as a whole isn’t simple.

“The terminology is still very new and its definition is in flux,” explains Deloitte Digital's experience designer Jani Modig, who considers the field “the bridge between business and design, combining organisational strategies and different design disciplines from UX to service design”.

David Eveleigh-Evans, chief creative officer at international experience design firm Method, has a similar take, calling it “an approach to design that enables you to think about the connection between business and its customers by defining the relationship they have”.

He stresses the importance of brand, the creation of relevant, engaging, differentiated experiences, and gearing design to what the customer wants: “You identify needs and deliver them in the context of what the business can create. It’s holistic, in the sense of combining insight, strategy, design and technology.”

So what is it?

If this all sounds very abstract - and experience design often is - it's useful to cite some concrete examples of this all-encompassing approach to it. One often-quoted of how broad experience design can be is of the bank whose new website's online services were designed to replace many branch services, and so what branches were for - and therefore their design and branding - had to change to reflect business services replacing tellers.

Another example that always comes up on conversations about experience design is Apple. Seen as being at the forefront of experience design, the company's brand and approach to customer experiences defines what products it develops and how they work through to the minuitest detail of even purely digital apps.

For Rob Varney, experience design director at user experience design agency Foolproof, this boils down to “a design practice focussed on creating positive human outcomes”, addressing and considering the needs, feelings and desires of who will use the product. As with other design processes, “you still conceptualise, iterate and go through a process of review and reflection with the client, but the difference with experience design is customers are embedded in the process”.

He adds this needn’t always be via co-creation and direct involvement, but can sometimes happen through experience designers putting themselves in the minds of potential customers.

Is experience design just UX?

There are arguments, especially when experience design pertains to digital and interactive projects, that this is really just repainted user experience design. Clearleft founder Andy Budd argues experience design has typically been about physical, tangible experiences, but in digital it makes little sense to ‘remove’ the (term or actual) user.

He wonders if agencies are feeling ‘devaluation’ in the term ‘user experience design’, and are wanting to differentiate through something new.

(On asking Budd about wider connotations, on what you should call the design process for working across all kinds of media and touchpoints - from websites and social media to apps designing how retail stores and products work - to create a fully integrated, seamless experience, he wryly suggests: “How about design?”)

So is this just UX, the new UX, or something else entirely? Rob says this to some extent depends on your understanding and definition of that field; Foolproof appears to consider UX more ‘mechanical’ than Budd, and thus experience design is “the added ingredient of brand and added complexity of how we want people to feel when using something and moving through the process”.

By way of example, Jani says UX might focus on a single channel (hotel room booking via an app) but experience design orchestrates all channels and touchpoints (from seeing a hotel ad online to the checkout at reception). 
 

David provides another example: “It’s about different design skills coming together to solve an experience problem, rather than just a poster problem or a mobile app problem. It enables you to understand how the mobile app is related to the campaign and the business offering, the products and services, the touchpoints of the customer service, my attitude and the meaning that gets created by the brand.

"All those connections are relevant when you’re doing an instance of or degrees of the whole experience.” It’s about “seamless and consistent experiences during the entire customer journey,” adds Jani.

Customer satisfaction

A key reason, then, for taking an experience design approach is the increased interconnectedness of everything. “Customers don’t see differences between channels — mediums of interaction — and so jump from one to the other and expect the same seamless experience everywhere,” says Jani. “Experience design allows organisations to think where, when and how an organisation interacts with its customers.”

This can happen in the most mundane of places. Dan Harris, service design director at service design consultancy Fjord, says because people increasingly use social networks and web-connected services, their expectations of things like banks are now radically different, and so such institutions must change how they work internally and through interfaces (including websites and apps) to meet that challenge — “a huge area of design opportunity, because we can go out, understand what people value and see where their expectations truly lie, and help clients provide that experience and that service”.

David says this extends to countless products and services that have a disconnect with their brands: “They have a certain market image, but your expectation isn’t met when using the product. They have less quality and are poorly executed. Even Apple struggles with its huge ecosystem”.

For Method, a key experience design benefit for a business is to ‘fix’ this, and have everything driven from brand intention: “The promise of a brand and delivering that as a pure, clean way of creating the experience, through engagement and relationship to the customers — at every point of interaction.”

Know-all

Given the nature of experience design, it’s no surprise experts recommend you should be well-rounded to practice it. Jani echoes Eric Schmidt in calling experience designers “learning animals”, because “there’s a broad spectrum of skills to excel in”, and Rob talks about cross-training: “Our team has people with all kinds of skills, but the power comes when you bring them together. Everyone needs an understanding of what everyone else does, to collaborate effectively.”

At Fjord, Dan notes there’s an especially tight interplay between interaction design and visual design, to “create a system that helps people understand something, elegantly complete what they want to do, and have an experience they want to come back to and feast upon”.

He continues that there’s also a major “need to understand people, motivations and irrationalities,” which he reckons “takes a bit of a psychologist’s inquisitiveness.” Rob adds this involves “plugging into the thoughts and desires of the customer, observing their behaviour and the context within which they’re behaving, and thinking about how what you’re designing works with that and any commercial objectives”. You take all that and build solutions — he says you cannot be precious.

Dan agrees: “Think about craft. It’s about chipping away at things, trying things out, and being willing to throw it away and start again. Experience design is about having that sort of mindset.”

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Embracing change

But given the ‘holistic’ nature of experience design, can it be practiced on a brand by a creative agency, or must it be part of a bigger company change? And if you only have access to part of the pie, is it still valid to utilise experience design methodology?

From an agency standpoint, Jani says it’s easier for those already heavily invested in digital, who can “combine data, customer research insights, branding and client strategy with innovative solutions”. For individual freelancers, who might be a smallish cog in a much larger project, David argues you can still apply experience design principles: “You don’t have to have an end-to-end experience to apply this thinking. If you’re a web designer, your job is to translate the brand strategy into ways of working, types of attitudes, expressions and behaviours.”

By way of example, convenience would for a budget supermarket be an absolute principle that drives everything regarding user flow. The experience would be about speed and frictionless payment, and even when “faced with the limitations of a platform you cannot change,” you can “take these fundamental principles of experience design, to give you direction”.
 

Buy-in from clients can also be key. Dan says Fjord asks clients whether they can “deliver what customers expect without rewiring their operation around such delivery”, and if they can “deliver that operation without a culture of user-centred thinking”.

Transforming a company into an experience design company is, he says, “part and parcel of becoming a digital-first company,” something many aren’t built around. “So it goes deep, and you must think about clients having the capabilities from an operational point of view to deliver the experiences users now expect. And while you can design experiences for brands as short-term campaigns, they won’t necessarily be transformative and effective.”

Experience the future

Thinking ahead, everyone agrees this line of thinking will underpin most successful design projects, regardless of where they’re targeted. “Experience design might be nascent, but for me as a designer, it’s natural to bridge all aspects of design and understand why they’re connected,” says David. “With digital, you now have that two-way thinking of having to transform for the customer and give them what they want, when they want it.“

Agencies and individuals might, as noted earlier, differ in approach, what they call experience design, and precisely where they think it sits within the web of ‘design’, but Rob says that doesn’t matter: “We can intellectualise about the differences between experience design, user experience design and so on, but our clients come to us because they want to make the thing that they’re creating better for them and their customers. What’s important is what you do leads to a better experience.”

Source Digital Art Online

innovationexperience designconsumer trendsglobal trendsservice designperformance

IN 1894, W.K. Kellogg made a discovery that would forever change what we eat in the morning. Seeking a more digestible breakfast alternative to baked bread for his brother’s hospital patients, the bespectacled former broom salesman accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat out overnight. The wheat became softened and when he rolled it out and baked it, each grain became a crispy flake.

Kellogg tried the technique on corn. Over the course of several years, he perfected the tasty flakes by experimenting with different formulas and testing them with his brother’s patients. He had invented — or designed — corn flakes.

But Kellogg didn’t stop there. He believed that the entire population — not just hospital patients with special diet restrictions — would enjoy the new food, and he carefully positioned and marketed it. He created a recognizable brand and set about continually improving packaging that kept the product fresh. The product went on to sell 175,000 cases in its first year, laying the foundation for the $22.5 billion company that still bears Kellogg’s name.

Kellogg’s genius came not just in his flair for food product invention, but also in his customer-centric approach, iterative prototyping process and careful consideration of the entire product experience — from the cereal itself to its packaging, marketing and distribution. Kellogg was more than a brilliant food scientist and marketer. He was also a brilliant designer.

One misconception still surprising to hear around Silicon Valley is that design is about making a product pretty — that it’s about designing the cereal box. Of course, colors, typography, layout and graphics — the classic elements of visual design — play an important role in the overall impact a digital product experience has on users. But pixel-perfect mockups and Dribble-friendly UI elements are just one component of a well-designed product.

IDEO is famous for popularizing Design Thinking – a repeatable, human-centered method for creative problem solving and innovation. Much like Kellogg did in re-inventing breakfast, this holistic approach to design takes inspiration from real people, works within market and technological constraints, and considers every product touch-point as an opportunity to surprise, delight and deliver benefits to users.

When done well, a human-centered approach fuels the creation of products that resonate more deeply with an audience — ultimately driving engagement and growth. As proof, one needs to look no further than the recent success of design-driven companies like Warby Parker, Fab, AirBnB and Pinterest. We’ve also recently seen digital stalwarts like Google, eBay and LinkedIn invest in the design of more cohesive and sophisticated user experiences.

Here are some of the ways of experimenting with human-centered design methods that product teams can practice every day to stay innovative.

Ask the right questions

If you’re struggling to generate ideas or stuck in a product rut, you’re probably asking the wrong questions. For example, at IDEO, a traditional telco shaped its strategy by asking questions like, “How can we raise our customer’s average monthly bill by 10 percent?” and, “How can we minimize our customer service call times?” Needless to say, business was stagnant at best.

When  the problem was re-framed in human-centered terms by asking questions like, “How can we help busy families to stay connected?” and “How can we reward our most loyal customers?” suddenly a formerly reticent client team was bursting with ideas and infused with a newfound sense of optimism.

Get out From Behind Your Desk

To stay innovative you need to stay inspired. Despite the plethora of information available behind the comfortable confines of your computer screen, you risk mental stagnation when you fall into predictable routines. Get out into the world and into the contexts that people are using your product – you’ll be surprised how quickly unexpected opportunities are revealed.

Make User Feedback Routine

When you’re working at breakneck speeds with tight deadlines, taking time out to gather feedback from users can feel like a luxury that’s easy to put off. But there’s no substitute for the nuance and depth of insight that can come from an in-person conversation. And with a couple of well-crafted Craigslist ads, a couple hundred dollars to pay your participants and an afternoon, you can quickly check key assumptions, uncover opportunities for improvement and gather inspiration for new ideas.

It doesn’t have to be formal or lengthy. In fact, rough prototypes often spark richer conversations than fully realized designs because participants are less likely to be concerned about offending the people in the room. Interactive prototypes allow for less directed feedback. Ask participants to verbalize their thought process as they use it. Try not to correct the participant or defend your prototype and answer their questions with questions. “What does this button do?” “Well, what would you like it to do?”

You can also use competitors’ products as a way to quickly understand what people value. For example, when working at IDEO on a project to design a low-cost video camera, the team had participants place a half dozen different existing cameras along various spectrums — most to least fun, most to least useful, most to least expensive. As they went through the exercise, they were made to articulate their rationale, providing actionable insights into how features and functionality could be prioritized.

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Think of Design as a Team Sport

George Kembel, an advisor at Stanford’s d.school, teaches the value of what he called an extroverted design process. By forcing yourself to articulate your ideas to someone else in words or sketches, you are inadvertently advancing your thinking. Meanwhile, your collaborators inevitably bring different frames of reference — and fresh thinking — to the problem, which will ultimately elevate the work. To quote the late Stanford design professor Matt Kahn, “You have to feed forward if you want feedback.”

To encourage this behavior, it’s important to cultivate a shared ownership of ideas. When a new idea arises, it’s the team’s idea, not an individual’s. The inverse scenario can lead to idea hoarding, which is like kryptonite to innovation. Often simple shifts in language can go a long way here — use inclusive language like “we” and “our” rather then “my” and “mine.” Instead of saying, “my idea,” try, “our idea” or “the team’s idea.” It’s not about claiming credit; no good idea comes from just one person. It’s about the quality of the idea and success of the team.
 

Build Minimum Viable Prototypes

The concept of the minimum viable product (MVP) has become near doctrine in the startup world, thanks in part to Eric Reis and his book The Lean Startup. Along with an iterative, agile development process, this build-to-learn philosophy meshes seamlessly with a design-driven, human-centered approach.

Before you even launch your MVP, think about what prototypes you can create cheaply to address your biggest product assumptions. Then test, iterate, test again and repeat. Keynote,for example, is great for rapid prototyping. You can quickly assemble alternative flows, easily create a range of screen designs and even introduce motion in to your prototype. There are some great digital tools available to gather quick feedback like usertesting.com, Verify, Crazy Egg and Get Satisfaction.

Like W.K. Kellogg did more than a century ago, involving your users early, prototyping to learn and applying a design-driven approach to every touch point along your product journey — not just your cereal box — can lead to breakthrough product experiences. Give it a try and you might just come up with some tasty results.

Source Wired

innovationcustomer experienceexperience designtipsservice designcompany cultureperformancehuman-centricityHuman-Centered DesignDesign Thinking
Ever since the publication, nearly two decades ago, of Peter Senge’s monumental bestseller The Fifth Discipline, we’ve been in the age of the “learning organization.” Executives have come to understand that for their companies to stay ahead of the competition, their people, at every level, have to learn more (and more quickly) than the competition: new skills, new takes on emerging technologies, new ways to do old things, from manufacturing to marketing to R&D. Gary Hamel, the influential business strategist, likes to say that one of the most urgent questions facing leaders (and thus their companies) is, “Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?”

It’s hard to argue with this love of learning. But one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, as I’ve traveled the world in search of organizations unleashing big change in difficult circumstances, is that the most determined innovators — the organizations with the most original ideas about how to compete and win — aren’t just committed to learning. They are just as committed to teaching. They understand that the only sustainable form of market leadership is thought leadership. And if, as Aristotle famously said, “teaching is the highest form of understanding,” then they also understand that the most powerful way to demonstrate your position as a thought leader is to teach other organizations what you know — whether they are customers, suppliers, or even direct competitors.
Think of it as the rise of the teaching organization. One of the most compelling examples of this phenomenon is a health-care provider in Seattle called Virginia Mason, a 90-year-old hospital system with 400 doctors and nearly 5,000 employees. Dr. Gary Kaplan, the organization’s CEO, is something of a legend in healthcare circles for the turnaround he’s led since taking charge in February 2000. At the time, Virginia Mason was struggling with deteriorating finances, inefficient processes, and uneven quality. Kaplan and his colleagues became committed students of the Toyota Production System, the blend of management techniques that fueled the rise of the most powerful car company in the world. The CEO led frequent pilgrimages to Japan, adopted the strategies, practices, and management language of its Japanese mentor, and developed a whole new way of running a hospital that it calls the Virginia Mason Production System — a system that has delivered staggering improvements.

In other words, Virginia Mason became the ultimate learning organization. Now it aspires to become the ultimate teaching organization. A year ago, Kaplan created the Virginia Mason Institute and opened the doors of his hospital to the outside word. The Institute leads tours of the facilities and explains how they work, teaches classes in various management techniques, and otherwise shares what Virginia Mason knows with individual executives and entire healthcare systems. The student has become the teacher.

Why bother? “First and foremost,” Kaplan told me, “this is about our vision to be the quality leader in our field and to help transform the field as a whole. Part of our mission as a company is to help improve our industry. But the more we educate, the faster we move as well. This will spur us on, push us to keep getting better, and people will chase our taillights. Our credibility as a company is dependent on our ability to deliver results. By teaching others what we’ve learned, it forces us to keep learning.”

You don’t have to be a huge organization with a full-fledged institute to teach other companies what you know. The founders of 37signals, a fast-growing software company about which I’ve written in the past, have developed a truly original set of ideas about strategy, marketing, and the organization of work — ideas that have fueled their tremendous success. But they don’t keep those ideas to themselves. Through a series of conferences (called Seed), a fabulously instructive blog (called Signal vs. Noise), and even a free e-book on the Web (called “Getting Real“), Jason Fried and his colleagues share their ideas with anyone who wants to learn from them.

Their approach, they like to say, is not to out-market the competition, but to out-teach the competition. Why? Because teaching creates a different kind of presence in the marketplace. It creates a higher sense of loyalty among those who learn from you. And it helps the company create not just customers for its products but an audience for its ideas — in the same way that famous chefs are willing to share their recipes so as to build a following for their overall approach to cooking.

So by all means, stay focused as leaders on what your companies need to learn. But don’t miss the opportunity to share what you already know. The most idea-driven organizations have a chance to become the best teaching organizations — and we never forget our best teachers. 

Source Harvard Business Review









 
innovationOrganisational CultureKnowledgeKnowledge Management
Managers are bombarded with an almost constant stream of data every day. According to David Derbyshire, “Scientists have worked out exactly how much data is sent to a typical person in the course of a year – the equivalent of every person in the world reading 174 newspapers every single day”.

This overload of data is making knowledge management increasingly more important. Three key reasons why actively managing knowledge is important to a company’s success are: 1.) Facilitates decision-making capabilities, 2.) Builds learning organizations by making learning routine, and, 3.) Stimulates cultural change and innovation.
Facilitates Decision-Making Capabilities
 
Data can offer managers a wealth of information but processing overwhelming amounts can get in the way of achieving high-quality decisions. GE’s Corporate Executive Council (CEC) is an example of how one company put a knowledge management system in place to help executives cut through the noise, share information, and improve their decision-making. The CEC is composed of the heads of GE’s fourteen major businesses and the two-day sessions are forums for sharing best practices, accelerating progress, and discussing successes, failures, and experiences. While information overload or needing knowledge from people in other parts of the company for decision-making can handicap managers, putting in place knowledge management systems can facilitate better, more informed decisions.
 
Builds Learning Organizations by Making Learning Routine
 
In his book, Learning in Action: A Guide to Putting the Learning Organization to Work, author David Garvin (2000) notes, “To move ahead, one must often first look behind”. The U.S. Army’s After Action Reviews (AARs) are an example of a knowledge management system that has helped build the Army into a learning organization by making learning routine. This has created a culture where everyone continuously assesses themselves, their units, and their organization, looking for ways to improve. After every important activity or event, Army teams review assignments, identify successes and failures, and seek ways to perform better the next time. This approach to capturing learning from experience builds knowledge that can then be used to streamline operations and improve processes.
 
Stimulates Cultural Change and Innovation
 
Actively managing organizational knowledge can also stimulate cultural change and innovation by encouraging the free flow of ideas. For example, GE’s Change Acceleration Process (CAP) program includes management development, business-unit leadership, and focused workshops. CAP was created to not only “convey the latest knowledge to up-and-coming managers” but also “open up dialogue, instill corporate values, and stimulate cultural change”. In this complex, global business environment, these types of knowledge management programs can help managers embrace change and encourage ideas and insight, which often lead to innovation, even for local mom and pop business owners.
 
Bottom Line
 
Fortune 500 companies lose roughly “$31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge”, a very scary figure in this global economy filled with turbulence and change. Actively managing knowledge can help companies increase their chances of success by facilitating decision-making, building learning environments by making learning routine, and stimulating cultural change and innovation. By proactively implementing knowledge management systems, companies can re-write the old saying, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional” to “Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.”

Source forbes.com



 
innovationcompany cultureKnowledgeKnowledge Management
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Google
offers core and job-specific courses to all its employees. Courses cover an array of topics from personal finances to management, to emotional intelligence.
“Google EDU is formalizing learning at the company in an entirely new way, relying on data analytics and other measures to ensure it is teaching employees what they need to know to keep profits humming,” wrote Joseph Walker in The Wall Street Journal.


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At Hyatt — a dual member of Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work and top 1000 — empathic listening is at the heart of the learning culture.  They created the “Changing the Conversation” training initiative to offer more every day opportunities for professional growth.  


 
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Xerox: Xerox has ranked among the top 10 Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises "Communities of practice are fast becoming the most effective way to connect people who need knowledge with those who have it. They cultivate new and innovative ideas to guide important business decisions.”


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Whole Foods puts its development dollars into building its leadership pipeline. Its Academy for Conscious Leadership is a four-day immersion course offering interactive presentations by both internal and external thought leaders.


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IBM: Competitiveness, profitability and intellectual leadership are the keywords to explain the introduction of knowledge management at IBM. The focus IBM has placed on knowledge management stems from the growing requirements of the company’s services. Because the ability to learn faster than the competition is today’s only sustainable competitive advantage. 
innovationcompany cultureKnowledge

For too long organizations have been paying lip service to customer centricity. Everyone knows it. But the old guard is getting old. Customers are no longer making every purchase decision merely on cost or ease of access, though many still are. Increasingly, purchase decisions are being made on whether a company is socially responsible, for the reputation of how they treat their workers and for the experiences they deliver.

The time has come for radical customer centricity. It is not only something that will enable companies to remain competitive, it is now required for those that want to remain relevant. Radical customer centricity will require an investment in the #ReOrg of company governance, structure and operational processes. As I’ve previously written, the #NewWayToWork requires new mindsets, methods and measures in order to not only survive, but to thrive. This sort of transformation requires vision and courage. The sort of courage Ford showed by investing in transforming itself prior to the economic downturn. The sort of vision and courage IBM has shown over the last several years in re-imagining and restructuring its entire business to be Future Strong. That sort of long term thinking is still missing across large swaths of our economy. Which is actually a great thing, because it represents an extraordinary, once-in-a-business-cycle opportunity.

As we begin to more closely understand the market dynamics of a connected society and its impact on the people within it, the most drastic shift comes in how we perceive, create and measure value. In this emergent, “collaborative economy” (or whatever you want to call it), the values of the company and the way it values people are two of the greatest competitive differentiators. Today we have new mechanisms for making visible previously intangible value on the balance sheets. As I posted in The Engagement Curve, companies should be looking beyond financial returns, to understand the additional value they receive from customer labor, data and the legends people share about their products and services.

It is my belief that the first companies to properly execute on this strategic #Reorg of their companies to embrace radical customer centricity will win not only in the short term, but over the long term. We are already seeing that a company which has real empathy for stakeholders, that designs great experiences and consistently delivers them, creates a level of customer loyalty that was previously unimaginable.

Why? Because the switching cost of what I call REAL Relationships are exponentially higher than transactional ones. “REAL” not only means genuine, but stands for Reciprocal, Empathetic, Authentic and Long lasting.

A zeitgeist moment for Customer Experience Design

The time has long past for CX Design to be the primary mechanism through which we understand, design and optimize a series of signature moments for marketing engagement to create a sense of REAL Relationships across an omni-channel customer journey. To transcend the idea of feeling successful after creating a sale through interruptive advertising techniques. Do you know anyone who enjoys being interrupted? Of course, we still do it, we have to – after all spam is still here because it works, at a sufficient, justifiable cost scale whereas it still generates reasonable or sometime exponential profit. But that doesn’t make it right, nor does it mean past success will continue to equal future success.

CX has actually been around a long time, decades it seems. It existed long before I thought I had first discovered it when I was Chief of eBusiness at the U.S. Mint. Back then, I called it the customer experience lifecycle and it was predicated on insights I learned from Patty Seybold, Joseph Pine and being a regular reader of Fast Company magazine. So when I developed the engagement matrix in 2001 to support a broader framework beyond what we now call journey mapping, I had presumed it would only be a matter of years before someone enabled it via an integrated marketing platform. It had become pretty clear then that every organization needed tools to establish the context for delivering the right content at the right time to remove friction from the customer experience. But over a decade later, I continued to be disappointed.

At least I was – until May of this year when I saw the future the product team behind IBM Journey Designer had envisioned and seemingly built. Once again, I had hope that what we finally needed to do the right things in the right ways was finally in reach. Olivier Blanchard wrote the following at its public debut during IBM Amplify in May of 2015, in Did IBM Just Build the Marketing Management Solution We Have All Dreamed about?  

For myself personally, with the IBM Journey Designer I saw a new platform that would enable a truly holistic business strategy—a mindset and an approach for integrating all channels of customer communications, all touchpoints, managing an intentionally designed and optimized customer experience to differentiate the brand value in the mind and heart of the customer. To do that using knowledge, empathy and an emphasis on creating shared value. Wow. Finally.

This is why I believe more and more companies are already embracing the idea of radical customer centricity without actually calling it that. Not only do we have new products to make the process simpler like Journey Designer and Mural.ly. We also have books like Brian Solis’ X – The Experience When Business Meets Design. Right now we are experiencing a zeitgeist moment. More and more organizations are applying design thinking to all aspects of their business. We have more companies investing more dollars in post-sales communications with customers than ever before.

Certainly, as we have continuously advanced in my Blab series #CXDNow, the time for Customer Experience Design is now! So get to it. Figure out what radical customer centricity means for you, embrace greater empathy, intentionally design your customer’s journey and find the way to continuously improve it through a never ending customer feedback loop.

I hope you are able to join us on this journey. Not only for your benefit, but for the benefit of all your stakeholders and the market at large.

Meet IBM Journey Designer: Design and refine your marketing across channels to give your customers the experiences they deserve at no cost. This IBM Marketing Cloud innovation enables teams to collaboratively visualize journeys, set shared marketing goals, and create and refine tailored experiences for dozens of priority segments. Sign up today at www.ibm.com/journey-designer/.

Also follow #NewWayToEngage on Twitter to hear more from Chris Heuer @chrisheuer and other influencers as we tackle the future of commerce together.

Source ibm.com 

customer experiencecustomer serviceconsumer behaviour

Today's customer is growing accustomed to researching and purchasing across multiple channels, even for a single transaction. The best omnichannel marketers understand this, and it shows in their advertising, messaging, and customer interactions. However, too many businesses have taken an inside-out approach, focusing on individual channels at the expense of a consistent experience across channels. 

Old habits die hard, but die they must if marketers are to alter their strategies and place the customer at the fore.

“Customer centricity has become an imperative,” says Chip Overstreet, SVP of marketing at cross-channel personalization provider MyBuys. Here, Overstreet, and other experts offer six questions marketers can ask themselves to determine if their business is on track to being customer centric.

Are customers engaged?

“Are people engaging with your messaging? Have they responded to whatever it is that you're putting in front of them? Are they moving in your direction as a vendor?” asks Mike Kisseberth, chief revenue officer at Purch, the digital publishing company formerly known as Tech Media Network.

Nothing is more telling of a company's marketing than the engagement rates on its content. Low engagement rates such as a lack of comments or shares could signify that customers and prospects didn't see the content or did see it, but didn't care. Marketers lose in either case.

Are you listening?

Today's customers demand much from the businesses they engage with, but they're also extremely open about their preferences. Beyond the heaps of volunteered data that companies such as Amazon have optimized their business around, customers are quite clear about how they wish to interact with a brand. Woe is the marketer who ignores this input. “Today's successful marketers are the ones who listen to their customer' implicit and explicit preferences, and communicate based on those cues,” explains Dave Walters, product evangelist at automation and email marketing company Silverpop.

Are you consistent?

Perhaps the most discerning quality in true omnichannel marketing is consistency. Customers don't distinguish between the different divisions or operating groups within a company. Part of the omnichannel promise is making sure customers receive messaging that is consistent across channels and personalized. “You have to be consistent, but there's a difference between having a consistent message and having a consistent personalized message,” MyBuys' Overstreet says. “If you're just repeating the same messages through social channels it's not social, it's spam. There's nothing social or consistent about that.”

Are you responsive?

People often engage with brand's messaging only to find the brand completely unresponsive. Ignoring customers has always been a dangerous practice, but it's an easy habit to fall into given the sometimes negative nature of feedback online. Though temptation may be strong, marketers must remain responsive. In today's transparent digital world, silence can be even more damaging than negative feedback. “You're never excited about getting a negative response, but response is always valuable. It gives you an indication of how people feel about your product or service,” Purch's Kisseberth says. “Any interaction is positive in that regard.”

Do you recognize your customers?

Given marketer's access to data, there's little to excuse not knowing a customer. However, even if businesses understand a customer's behavior and habits on one device, the challenge lies in recognizing that same customer on another device. “Mobile has changed shoppers' behavior drastically. If you can't recognize customers when they reach out on mobile, you can't have a customer-centric view,” Overstreet says.

Are you fostering relationships?

Simply closing a sale and moving on to the next lead is no longer viable in today's environment. Consumers are making big buys in half the time and marketers who aren't working to maintain relationships with their customers risk being forgotten when the sales cycle begins again. Marketers must strive to foster a healthy relationship with customers, old and new. “All too often, customers are forgotten after a first purchase, but to be successful--and drive great revenue--marketers must engage and reward their most loyal [customers],” Silverpop's Walters says. “It's also important to remember that today's customer relationships cannot be siloed. A customer's actions on mobile, email, the Web, brick-and-mortar stores, etc., must be housed in one marketing database.”

Source dmnews.com

customer experiencecustomer servicestrategyconsumer behaviour
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