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Salesman didn’t die.. but got help

Every time something new comes up and people jump on it, they learn something new but it seems that they often start forgetting the best features of the previous while learning. Then came the content marketing era and inbound marketing surge. Now there is a swing back to ABM (Account based marketing and proactive sales). Danny Wong from Blank label just published an article about this with 9 B2B sales predictions for 2016 in Huffington Post (source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-future-of-sales-9-b2b-sales-predictions-for-2016_us_56beb9b0e4b06fb6526b67c9)

It was great article and I totally agree with Mr. Wong.: Outbound and account management are musts, buyer journey and customer centricity are imperative. Marketing automation is fantastic in existing customer management and content marketing. Still, in case of new prospect recognition most visitors don’t leave their contacts or signs of interest which leaves most potential customers unrecognised. This is something that has bothered me.

Then I learned about Leadforensics… (because they reached out to me and outbound works 🙂 ) They gave me a short introduction to their software (phone+video), we did a pilot with two weeks of data capturing after which they presented me the results and pitched me an offer. I got hooked and bought the license.. and I am even more hooked now. (By the way, their process is very much worth experiencing too, its brilliant. You can book your trial contact here)

This is something I just have to share, because I find Leadforensics to be so elegant, easy and effective. The foundation of the service is IP address recognition. The service lets you know from which companies people are visiting your website, how many of them, which content, time spent and so on. In B2B this intelligence is often enough. You know which companies are looking right now in your sector and they are already considering your company. In case you are considering marketing automation or need leads for sales to follow, Leadforensics is a great tool to take as a first step in operational and cultural change or as part of the lead generation development in marketing automation project. This is what you get (this data is from this site):

#1 Visiting organisations

1 visitor list

#2 Sorting visitors

2 Sorting visitors

Example of multivisitors

3 multivisitor

#3 Company details and visitors

4 company details

In this case 3 visits by one person

5 visitor number

#4 Potential people to contact

6 contacts

#5 Dashboard

7 dashboard

#6 Sorting and actions

Now that I have the tool in use, I can upload my customer register and create a current customer group with assigned contacts. I can also create prospect list with assigned persons who will be notified about new visits. You can also define goals, not every content is a sign of buying intent, but some are exactly that. Assigning goals and actions for them is quite easy and effective.

My company FutureCMO – Catalyst for Growth is a super temp one man show with a network of other entrepreneurs and I am mostly helping large companies with their digital and customer experience transformation. My challenge is, that projects are large and take my time while running them leaving me little time for selling next cases. When they end I can easily drop between projects. This kind of transformation work is quite time sensitive and frequency of doing it is rare. Also, The lead-time from interest to project could take a lot of time too. Another challenge has been, that I have a globally competitive knowledge, methods and approach, but my work has been local sofar. Now I am going to make my first attempt to get my first very own international clients onboard. While working for WPP and Omnicom this was natural, but as an entrepreneur now it would be a big leap. This is why I think Leadforensics will help me target right companies at the right time and make certain that I can get my projects in without long stand-by periods. I am also working on a start-up for which we are raising money to get started and knowing which companies are interested in our pitch is very important. I am only in the beginning of using Leadforensics, but I am quite impressed with it.

In case you find Leadforensics interesting, you can book your own demo and trial period here (Link URL )

In case you are using some other tools for lead recognition, I’d be very happy to hear about your experiences!

Segmentation 3.0 – disrupting marketing, media and management

Designing advertising, services, products or doing media planning requires us to understand customers and target markets. The more we understand about behavioral preferences, attitudes, lifestyles and multiple other variables, the better we can do our jobs. Combining all sources of data: research, analytics, buyer segments in real time bidding (RTB) targeting engines, qualitative research.. its such a wealth of data that it has become too big to manage. Right now we need to be able to simplify and turn such wealth of data in to understanding and actionable priorities. This is exactly what segmenting should be all about.

Segmentation 1.0 is about creating customer understanding inside organization. The segments are actually stand alone pictures and stories about customers. These segments can’t be connected to data, which means that they steer creativity but don’t offer KPI’s, real business management tools or monitor market share changes.

Segmentation 2.0 is about more data driven and actionable segmentation. Dynamic interest grouping with online targeting tools allows you to calculate probability of click or purchase and adjust your investment/segment accordingly. Same method applies to existing customer analytics, which offers steering such as next best offer, likelihood of negative churn or the level of monetary value of different segments. It’s already about making data actionable. However, these technology specific, not market level segments.

There are two cases of Segmentation 2.0 that are now leading the way to 3.0 available in Finland. Finland is interesting because of advanced population register allowing you to do interesting solutions easier than elsewhere. However, these learnings will soon become internationalised.

The story about Finnish church is quite eye opening. Since 2000 the Finnish national church membership level has dropped from 85% to 72%. The Church is in crisis.

Church churn

Church has been responsible for registering population since the beginning of organized society in Finland. Everyone who gets baptized start paying church tax as part of their national taxation. My personal church tax was more than 1000€ last year. Losing members means losses in church taxation and losing young people means losing their life time taxes calculated in billions.

Church needed tools to understand their members and ways of preventing churn. Actually the church needed to re-invent them selves. They needed segmentation. Jarmo Lipiäinen, head of Kotimaa’s sales and marketing recognized this challenge and took action. Member 360 was born. This segmentation divides people in to segments by their religious tendencies and multiple other lifestyle variables. This segment tag is attached to everyone in Finland, member or not.

Screenshot 2016-03-16 10.17.58

Picture: Main and sub-segments

Screenshot 2016-03-16 10.18.12

Picture: Example profile – Disconnected experience seekers

Making the segmentation applicable required tools. Jarmo Lipiäinen led the project and they created data visualization tools for parishes. You can now look at areas and understand what kind of segments are there and buy addresses to people from different segments. This allows church to speak to their members and prospects in language and perception they can agree with. Church is not just about religion, it’s a second layer of safety net for under privileged people and has multiple other roles in society . People don’t leave church only for religious reasons, they expect church to act for greater good and help people. Church stands for a lot more than God.

Since the Member 360 was introduced, now +100 parishes are using the tools and changing the way church works and is relevant to their members. Church is now rewriting their story, hiring service designers to design engagements and services for members. One experiment, internet priest with chat, was very popular among young people who were in distress but would never have reached out to church advice or someone to talk face to face. The role of church, the message and ways of being part of peoples’ lives is now changing fast. Church is learning member centricity.

Commercial 2.0 segmentation

Another initiative took place simultaneously on commercial side, Fonecta Buyer Classification. This toolkit looked at people’s lifestyles and buying preferences and was also connected to the entire population. On top of that, it is also connected to   media buying tools and TNS research data. I have personally implemented multiple cases with buyer classification in travel, restaurants, hotels, telco and retail. Buyer classification has 8 main segments and sub-segments.

  1. Budget-Concious young adults
  2. Bargain hunters preferring finnish purhases
  3. Parsimonious Pensioners
  4. Brand-Focused thrill seekers
  5. Ordinary citizens
  6. Service-seeking couples
  7. Family-focused quality seekers
  8. Solid and prosperous elite consumers

The segments can be attached to your own customer database which allows you to see how many people there are in each segment, how they behave, how valuable they are, what do they buy. You can use this understanding to reach out potential new customers out there based on insights from your own data. Buyer classification allows you to connect internal and external realities with same segments and also monitor market development in numbers: who’s winning and losing what kind of customers. Business is not just simple numbers – won and lost, its very much about value too. The whole point of segmenting is about understanding where to concentrate your resources and optimize your profitability. You have to make choices, segmenting allows you to do make better decisions for those that matter most. This kind of generic segmenting attached to media buying and external data is a whole new game for business KPI’s and corporate management. It’s a possibility to connect creativity, resource allocation and business goals together

Human 360 – Next generation – segmentation 3.0

The next level is currently entering the market. Same segments are now connected to online behaviour too. You can now do online media planning by segments and use same segments in real-time-bidding. That’s a minimum standard in this day and age, but there’s more.

Member 360 and Buyer Classification were single purpose segments that could be adapted to other purposes but weren’t optimized for them. The next generation is about connecting multiple segmentation tools together:

  • 1st You have your own core segmentation or generic segmentation that has been made for your business sector’s specific needs. This segmentation is used for business management and company wide KPI’s
  • 2nd You have supplementary contextual segments for further insights: eg. Food, travel, technology, sports, politics, religion, fashion, housing,… you name it

To say it simply, the new generation approaches individuals holistically. People have different kind of passions and interests, capabilities and life situations. These contexts can be translated as passions and orientation. You can now approach people based on their orientation and you can analyze what kind of passions and orientations your current and potential customers have. You can also calculate scores for each segment allowing you to evaluate which approaches to your customers have strongest likelyhood of meaningful impact. Creation of business scenarios and relevant communications has never been easier.

Screenshot 2016-03-16 10.22.30

Such insight can be used for creative planning, media planning, new service development, partner selection,.. well, designing the future of the company.

Segmentation 3.0 enable us to connect 4C’s together and create a corporate GPS for success:

Screenshot 2016-03-16 10.22.42

Sofar Google has given a price for words with Google Adwords. This kind of segmentation will give similar price variation for people, it becomes the unifying currency in media buying. Some people have a much higher profitability potential than others. The future of media profitability will be dependent of reaching those audiences and people, advertisers are willing to pay most for. We are truly entering a new era in data driven analytics, planning, marketing, creativity and management. This development will have major impact on general management, mediabuying practices and entire creative industry. This kind of methods and tools will allow us to work miracles in unseen scale.

Aller Refinery

This development will further enhance marketing’s strategic role in management and strategy. Data will enable us to manage end-to-end processes better than ever

Screenshot 2016-03-16 10.22.54

Author Toni Keskinen and Jarmo Lipiäinen have published “Journey with customer – from product centricity to symbiosis strategy” –book in Finnish 2013.

 

Disruptively Customer Centric B2B sales – Tools for Crossing the Chasm

B2B sales has been under major disruption due to content marketing and automation surge. I am a big believer and practitioner of these tools and methods my self and I’ve been convinced that this is the way to create naturally supporting customer journey towards a happy end and the results have proved how well it works. Now I have to admit that you can go way beyond.

Let’s  consider the B2B buyers and procurement and their process:

TOP OF THE FUNNEL has to do with planning and designing the change. This work is mostly done with internal stake holders, consultants and designers. The buyers are exploring options, pondering their current solutions and how they fit with the change. This stage is really about learning and defining what would good outcome look like.

PROBLEMS:

  • The buyers don’t engage with vendors at this stage, although they are likely to use vendors’ content marketing materials. Most of the buyers’ time is spent searching on Google.
  • Buyers have hard time finding relevant content because the market is quite cluttered with generic content that doesn’t really support buyers’ process. What customers really need and look for are: Solution facts, Business Cases, White papers, Success Stories, Reviews… Tangible and concrete tools for their process. These are not easy to find!
  • Customer would benefit from dialogue with the vendors, but they don’t do it because they don’t want to get harassed by sales. Buyers want to drive the process and manage it efficiently. Active sales is considered disturbing.
  • Large vendors dominate the space, because they have resources to produce content, they have strong page ranking and their brands pull customers to their resources. This logic and dynamic will enforce status quo and buyers don’t find NEW, INNOVATIVE AND MORE COST EFFICIENT OPTIONS. These vendors are not known yet and they concentrate on their product and service development – not in content creation. Their page rank is low and Google doesn’t find them. The buyers interest is to find the best solutions but they have very hard time finding them.
  • When the logic of top-of-the-funnel goes like that, it influences the request for proposal (RFP). The RFP and vendor list that will get that RFP will consist of well known players and leave very little room for innovative approaches
  • You don’t get trustworthy reviews from B2B companies anywhere, really. It’s difficult to compare sales pitch with actual delivery experiences. Success cases underline success, but hide failure.

Screenshot 2016-01-19 07.06.45

MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL is about engagement with 3-10 recognised players who will get the RFP. This is the first time for the buyer to allow vendors to ask questions and study options with them. Vendors have experience from multiple customers and they can reflect previous cases and their results which could potentially lead to better outcome than the one outlined in the RFP. Connecting customers challenges to vendors solutions could create a new solution, which would be the best case

PROBLEMS:

  • Most innovative and best solutions are not the ones to get the RFP and the customers will probably choose solutions that are established, expensive and quite similar to those that their competitors are using
  • The most innovative people don’t get to influence the buyers thinking and the buyers don’t get the kind of edge to their operations that would have been possible
  • The market logic will enforce status quo: innovative SMEs don’t get to grow and once their technology is proven the entrepreneurs will make an exit and sell their company to big players years after the development of better solutions and at that point the big players will introduce the solutions to the market and scale them. At this point buyers don’t get such benefit from their choice anymore and they will pay much more than they would have paid a couple of years earlier

I met the Founder and CEO of SpendLead Fabrice Saporito last autumn and their solution really impressed me. SpendLead is an environment where the optimal buying process has been made possible and allows the most innovative players to engage with buyers early. The founders have their history in procurement and they have developed a dream environment for the buyers to realise the optimal buying process!

SpendLead founders have their history in major companies buying processes, which has allowed them to get these buyers in. There are already major companies procurement departments which have combined buying power worth more than 200 Billion/year using SpendLead which gives the service a unique value proposition. eg. BBC

Screenshot 2016-01-19 07.36.28

The service has been built around these buyers interests, which means that they have embraced it and adopted it rapidly. It’s now time for sellers and marketers to take advantage of this possibility. How it works for marketers promoting their services in SpendLead? You publish exactly what the customers are looking for:

Screenshot 2016-01-19 07.43.23

And you get tools to do you engagements and lead generation:

Screenshot 2016-01-19 07.43.40

For an SME this environment gives full toolkit, allows very easy publication and enables anonymous engagements with buyers who want to learn more at the top of the funnel. This will speed up and strengthen the innovative solutions adoption. This environment magnify solutions and their impact, not brands. That’s why I think that SpendLead can disrupt the market logic over the next couple of years. The service is completely free for buyers and the business model is based on leads. Their pricing is very affordable, 1,99USD/lead and it will probably disrupt the lead generation market also in case of bigger brands. At least it is great way for SME’s to scale their sales reach. I don’t think that big companies can afford to neglect this kind of player in case their buyers adopt the service.

SpendLead is definitely worth trying and their thinking is solid. I’m really interested in seeing how this kind of disruptive new service will change the way we do B2B selling and buying!

In case you have experiences about customer dialogue and sales process inside SpendLead I’d be very interested in hearing actual experiences from both buyers and marketers point of view

From Loss to Profit – Turning Around Domino’s in Pakistan

It’s the classic story of supply meets demand. On the one hand, Domino’s was losing its grip and brand recall among Pakistani consumers. And on the other, Pizza Hut’s GM of Operations, Ahsan Ahmed, wanted to be the Jack Welch of retail industry.

In May 2012, he signed a 3 year deal and joined Domino’s as its CEO in Pakistan with the goal for helping the company achieve its first ever month of positive P&L in 9 years. Not only did he manage that, but also 70% growth over the previous year. The question is how.

What did this experience teach you?
Domino’s grew because talented people got together. I just stumbled to their presence.

What was wrong at the point you took over?
International brands use our people, facilities, ingredients, our brains – yet sell under their own brand – leaving a fraction of the income and take another fraction back. Domino’s was struggling for 9 years – no one knew who was running the company or growing it. We can easily create good concepts, have a lot of creative people that can create kick ass brands.

How do you identify talent with leadership potential?
Anyone who has to make a decision is a leader. At times, the rider is a leader. You reached the customers house and showed them the order and you realize the order is damaged. Rider has to make a call and say “Please have this and I will get you another one.”

But people don’t do this because brands are wary of employee theft.
Are you happy when the competition steals the customer? When you don’t change the product, you will lose the customer. If you haven’t put in a monitoring setup that prevents people from stealing, its the HQ’s fault. People in the head office don’t know what happens in the field. They have never filled the forms.

So how many riders are now at HQ, calling the shots?
A lot of decisions are being made by operators. They are strategic and tactical. Not 100%, but certainly a higher % than our competitors. Our goal is to fill every department with an operator. Food companies think that riders are replaceable. But the customer interacts with this so called lowest denominators.

Can local brand achieve similar success?
There is money to be made. I better be ready to take it. In Pakistan people eat out or order in at max 3 times a week. In Dubai, its at max 6 times a week. When Pakistan transitions to this, the market will explode. You better have that inverted triangle.

What sets a good operator apart from the rest?
I want a group of people who have handled (and retained) irate customers. Brands mistakenly send their weakest team member to handle irate customers when in fact the strongest must go and create a long lasting bond. Every complaint is a gift, its a great chance to connect with people.

How do you operate?
We introduced a system wherein hiring focused on operators with successful backgrounds. We taught them time and people management. We created a decision making unit. Its the group that runs business for Domino’s. They set the goals to chase. We hand them projects and P&L management. They make their own budgets and gain approvals by BCM (Budget Control Members) and me. Its made in the 3rd week of the month to prepare and execute.

Why the third week?
It leaves ample time for planning. In the fourth week, they need to translate this into KPI which is linked to the budget. In the first week of the month, you need to sit and review your people side – how strong is your bench? Are you covered for the growth that is anticipated? Also see customer complaints, who has to be trained, hired or fired. Only then will people side be strong.

In the second week, we sit and review the marketing plan. If things are working, what is working? This is where we decide what stays and what is removed. Then comes to process of budgeting for the next month. Its an easy four step approach for meeting financial goals.

Why not quarterly like the MNC’s do it?
The mantra of the food business is ‘expect the unexpected.’ If you set financial goals every quarter. you only get 90 days to reach it. With our monthly approach, you are giving 12 chances. If you can improve the planning process and make it simple. Our growth is 45-50% growth, index to last year, most of which is thanks to the teams own planning.

Doesn’t that set up the team for feeling overwhelmed with the targets?
You have to make sure you’re setting the right kinds of targets. Then break it down – baby steps – into small achievable steps. People wait for exit interviews to ask people why they’re leaving. People miss the budget because its the case of wishful thinking.

Why did you close the North Nazimabad outlet?
There is no way to predict problem child’s. What works today may not work tomorrow. Irrespective of whose brain child it was, if it hurts the P&L, you must shut the facility. We’re looking at a third facility for DHA, ideally in Phase 2 extension. In order to service Karachites in 30 minutes of less, you need 70 locations.

Is this turnaround an outlier?
Turnarounds are possible in Pakistan. Because we have a fantastic bunch of human resource. Anyone who says otherwise should look in the mirror. Domino’s was able to make a come-back because the customers were very forgiving. The key is that you fill the HQ with operators. And give them a simple mechanism to do their jobs. It Alhamdulillah worked in our case. If it can turnaround for Domino’s, then it can for anyone.

What would you like the future applicants of the QSR industry to know?
My boss from Pizza Hut used to say that every problem has two legs. I have learnt that every success has two legs too. The problem is that we find the problem legs and shoot them, and forget to recognize the legs doing a good job. I hire people for their body language. You can teach them QSR and customer service, you cannot teach body language. I’m going to hire people on their ability to handle politics. QSR industry aspirants should

  • Have the decency to inform the customer if an order will be late.
  • Remember that somewhere in the system, a boss does not care how you get the job done, but wants it done.
  • Finding a coping mechanism to help them take stress positively.

Why do you think most people shy away from QSR?
High stakes players in the country are coming in for some economic interest. Making money legally is the easiest thing to do. If you are making a lot of money and someone’s wants a cut in an illegal manner, you can find a way to be proactive and find a way of co-existing.

You and I can’t change Pakistan overnight, but in the mean time, we have to be practical people. When a food authority seals a premises, its because impractical and idealistic people have rubbed them the wrong way. Look at the other side. Batha earnings are far less than what QSR’s steal in evading taxes. So when you don’t ethically feed the regulators, they will eventually strike back. Business owners are bigger thieves for tax non payment. They think of this as the chicken and egg problem. Fix the paradox, you have the brains and resources to ensure accountability and make public those that steal.

What’s your key advice for QSR industry CEO’s?
Don’t manage people, lead them. Managing people makes them unhappy. Unhappy people get your store closed.

In Conversation with the Director of Engro Eximp

The 2008 meltdown is a difficult point for investors who are stuck in the past, because it will serve to remind them of the trouble they lived through rather than focusing on what has happened since.While the population of scared investors has dwindled as the bull market has gone on, plenty of people have overcome their fears only to a point of dipping a toe back in to test the water temperature; seven years later, the anniversary will remind them of why they won’t believe experts who say “Come on in, the water’s fine”.

I sat down with the Isfandiyar Shaheen of Engro Eximp to learn his take-away’s from the crisis and ideas for prevention of another.

What did the crisis teach you?
Varies for most of us. It has taught me that we need practical wisdom. I engage daily with the world of financial models, KPIs, rules, performance management, deals and board reporting materials. The crisis has taught me we don’t need more rules, we need deeper discussions about the merits of doing the right thing. Because smart people will always figure a way around more rules.

Is there anything that we’re still doing that we should stop?
In completely nerd language, we need to stop adding an IF statement on top of an IF statement to get a model to “balance”. What we need are elegant solutions. The thing with elegant solutions is that they require us to internalize many guiding principles which aren’t necessarily found in the world of economics. By economics I mean the study of resource allocation popularized during the mid 1700’s post industrial revolution. It would be naive to think that more rules will get the job done. Just to drive this point further. In the 1970’s, wild fire fighters in California used 4 guiding principles. This was changed to 48 well defined rules by mid 1990’s. End result was more deaths and poorer performance.

What did the crisis boil down to in your opinion?
In my view, it was a crisis of information asymmetry that was consciously propagated by a few members in the real estate finance value chain. Today the same asymmetry exists around valuation of tech companies. They quote big headline valuation numbers. Which gets used by retail investors to justify pricing when such companies go public. But rarely people talk about the terms of a subscription agreement in private deals. Whether it’s what’s app getting 19 billion or slack getting 1 billion in valuation, no one is talking about the actual terms and protections built in. This asymmetry might hurt some people.

So we’re on the verge of a second dot com bubble?
I’m not saying that, just saying that the crisis has taught us that we need to kill information asymmetry. We must do it because capital allocation should not be the privilege of the few. By engaging more minds in the process of making capital allocation decisions I think we can make better choices and hence access some practical wisdom.

So what needs to be done today?
In the end I think people get pissed off when they feel misled or taken for granted. All financial crises misled someone and someone got hurt. I don’t think we’ve learned how not to do that. We haven’t because we are still thinking rules and regulation. We need to give guiding principles a chance. We need to give practical wisdom a chance. I think more money going into the world of big data will solve that issue though. So overall I’m optimistic.


Further reading:

Business Design and Transformation process for growth

I have been privileged to be part of some major enterprise transformation processes over the past decade that have taught a lot about how do you actually enable and enforce change for customer centric, holistic, agile and innovative corporate culture. In the business world we are living in today, brands are created with customer experience and corporate culture. The capacity to serve customers in an omni-channel world the way they want to be served is becoming a competitive requirement instead of being an advantage.. This can not be done with silo organisation with responsibility barriers, split budgets, strict hierarchy, fixed roles and waterfall development processes. Those things are true status quo traps that will eventually kill any business sooner or later.

Just like Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, the authors of Lean UX -book, I got fed up with cases that were perfectly planned but never implemented or the implementation was too far from the plan and naturally didn’t deliver as expected. I’ve also grown out of creating strategies and roadmaps and moved to actual change making. I really love Lean UX. Lean Start-up- and design thinking adjusted to established enterprise environment. Solving real problems, creating customer insights, direct applications and implementing them asap is much more rewarding for everyone involved than just designing the change. Getting results fast accelerate learning, inspire innovation and motivation beyond anything else. The gradual change is also much easier to manage than a complete turnover at once.

The key rules for success are:

  1. Outside-in > understand customers and markets first, then look at your offering, customer interfaces, brand, invoicing, agreement processes, up-sales, cc etc. Be honest and learn.
  2. Bottom-up > The need for a change should be recognized at the board level, however the change learning should start at the bottom – with people who are directly communicating with customers and know their frustrations and understand company’s challenges. Most often they can directly tell you what needs to be changed. Once you know these, you can take it to the board room and be honest again and learn more
  3. Do and learn fast, adjust and improve. Don’t try to get everything right before releasing something. There are no watertight facts before there are real life results. Most things can be tested small before scaling or making major investments before proof of concept. Stay curious and lean even in case of larger enterprise

Based on my experience, this approach works every time:

customer centric management transformationIt is crucial to work you way bottom up in order to obtain actionable insights

Bottom-up strategy creation and implementation

1. Create customer insight. Use customer data, analytics, scoring model, online data, research and any available data sources in order to understand who the customers are how do they behave. If you don’t have enough data, get it, make 1-2-1 interviews or research and mash-up other datasources. Create a customer journey map based on these findings and engage with people who work in direct customer interfaces like sales, retail, call center, research, support, invoicing, credit negotiation, specialists, etc. By connecting these two realities you can see a couple of things:

  1. Who are the customers, what are they doing, how and why?
  2. How does this customer behavior show in your customer interfaces, what are the most important pain points and frustrations customers have and what can you do about it. Once you have the facts, you can see how you can extract painpoints by re-designing the customer journey experience across customer interfaces and how that will reduce costs to serve while also improving NPS. That has a direct bottomline impact. Also, you can recognize opportunities that will help you sell more effectively, improve conversion rates and thus drive marketshare and sales up.

When you have understanding about the customers and you can define Customer relationship-, Customer experience vision, set goals and recognize their impact to revenue and bottomline. The Customer interface and customer analysis becomes the roadmap for better and enables a shared language thru organisation. Everybody can agree with the facts and understand their own role in the customers’ process. The discussion is around customer behavior and going forward, it’s not about blaiming anybody for their decisions in the past. The mandate for change comes frome the customers and dictates what needs to be done. This is why everyone can agree with it and don’t lose face or feel the need to defend prior decisions. In every single case this first part has been capable of igniting inspiration, trust in own capabilities to do meaningful changes and realize them. Insights and understanding create momentum that makes it possible for a company to change fast in a meaningful way. This change is done because people love it and their hearts and minds are burning to make an improvement. It’s not done because management has told employees to change or because the management team has come up with new organisation chart… This route to transformation can be rapidly implemented and the results are quickly at hand. These results justify futher improvement.

It has been interesting to learn, how much silent knowledge, un-tapped knowledge and supressed passion can be found in any given organisation. This capacity can only be realized by deploying the change within the organisation. This is why outsourcing the planning is not a good idea in my opinion. Carrying light inside with a bag doesn’t help, you need to light up the people. Once you release that passion and knowledge in constructive way, it will change the organisation permanently. The way of working will change, it will improve job satisfaction and willingness to push the limits further. At best, it will create a positive cycle for competitive advantage and growth.

2. The next stage is about turning insights and understanding in to systematic Way of Working. This is actually very practical consideration about recognizing responsibilities, ownerships over larger entities, creation of KPI’s and information flows or designing the approach to commercial management in general. Often there are factors like scorecards and conflicting interest in the organisation that need to be fixed, rewarding mechanisms or silo cultures that just need new perspective and solving. Very often dysfunctional organisation has everything in order on the surface, but multiple little things that paralyze the operational engine, innovation, productivity and motivation. Sometimes management isn’t even aware of such issues that could be historical relics that should have been solved ages ago.

What ever there is in the way of working, the new perspective gained in the first stage will help in finding solutions to them. The work is done gradually case by case and the excitement and positivity for change gradually take over the entire personnel. At this point, the company should reach a positive cycle that feeds winning mentality, job satisfaction and capacity to innovate.

3. The first two stages have already revealed the challenges that can be found from systems architechtures and platforms. While the first stage already enables major improvements with UX design and coding, the platforms enable strategic development and automation. This naturally takes more time and is different kind of project, but by this time the needs, benefits and requirements should be selfevident. As the learning has already started at frontend level, the understanding about available business benefits should also be clear for decision making and investment planning.

This kind of change can improve efficiency and productivity very fast without showing anything outside yet. However, when the company is really changing it should also show outside. In my experience advertising is actually very effective mean for internal change communication. The promises that the company gives outloud enforces the internal resolve to follow thru and deliver as planned. Advertising is about communicating the core values and that goes to own personnel, customers and the market. There’s just the question of timing that must be carefully considered. If the advertising starts too early and the personnel hasn’t really got on board, it might have double negative impact:

  1. internal feeling of disconnect between promises and capability to deliver and
  2. customers feeling that there isn’t enough substance behind those promises which could damage the brand and destroy the momentum that would have been available.

Like anything that has to do with people and emotions, these are delicate matters and require consideration. In order to do things successfully you need to have a clear plan but it has to be flexible enough so that it can be deployed in right order.

These transformation stories are truly interesting and educating processes. I’d love to hear your stories and experiences about them. Please comment and share 🙂

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Branding = Change Management and Operational Excellence

Over the past couple of years I have been involved in the development processes of SME’s and some major companies with hundreds of millions or billions in turnover. These processes are about change:

  • The emphasis is moving from advertising and external media to own touchpoints and communications with own customers
  • The marketing as such is becoming more and more targeted and measurable. Marketing has a business case and acts more and more like a business unit
  • The view is moving from products and services to customers and customer centric insight driven development
  • The development requires companies to change the way they operate and how they are organized
  • Big data about customers, their behavior and their needs is required in order to enable the change
  • The change requires companies to re-consider their KPI’s and what data do they use in order to increase transparency and enhance and empower internal innovation and cross-silo collaboration
  • This change must be managed and management must change in order to enable the change for better

I recently published my view on the new and re-designed 7P’s for marketing. In this article I already underlined the fact that marketing has changed profoundly. Brands are no longer created – they are earned. Brands live in customers’ minds and they grow from experiences.. own and peer experiences. In my opinion CMO’s are at the very core of corporate Must Win Battles like:

CMO and corporate must win battles

This is why I would say rather confidently that the path from good to great brand includes these stages:

branding, marketing, operational excellence

First: You need to have goals and vision. They act as a unifying master plan that everyone in the company can understand and accept. What kind of brand are we trying to create? What kind of customer experience and and relationship are we trying to deliver and earn? What kind of impacts are we trying to get?

Second: When you analyse the customer journey accross all touchpoints and channels, you get to see how are you currently performing, what and where do you need to improve. This is where the magic happens between your brand and customers

Third: You need to take a look at how does your company actually operate and how is it managed. Does your current ways support and enable the customer interface operations that you are trying to achieve. Are you organized right, do you have right kind of KPI’s, are different diciplines and silos working together or do you lose insights between gaps and inevitably cause corporate autism?

Fourth: Does your corporate infrastructure enable everything mentioned and planned above? Do you have legacy systems and technology, disconnected data etc. In case the technology and infrastructure doesn’t enable the change, how do you take action? What kind of roadmap and investments are required? What can be done fast, what takes more time and effort? What can be piloted and can you start the learning curve growth with some manual work that enable more effective technology implementation?

This same approach to change management can also be seen as work that moves from practical customer interfaces insights and understanding to top – not top-down. This is how it works:

upside down strategy workWhen I have been running these cases I have learned that this approach works very, very well. The reason is that everyone is involved and the process in it self actually enhances the learning and feeling of unity, shared goals and willingness to change. This is because the process inspires, makes difficult theory work feel practical and easy to adopt. Very often the process generates several small victories and improvements that can be implemented immediately. The good experiences start building up and people get the feeling that these things are really happening and we are really doing something meaningful. Once the plan is ready, the organisation has already moved several steps to the right direction and has become excited about the development. For the management this is extremely valuable situation, because they can just enable what the organisation is asking for instead of trying to order and manage changes top-down.

The reality is that the use of data and data driven operations are requiring new approach to technology and companies need to adopt it some how. Here’s an example about the use of external data ecosystem along with own data

Internal and external data use in marketing

The role of internal and external data:

the role of internal and external data in marketing and customer services

This is how I see the brand development in this day and age. Do you agree/disagree? Would you have any cases, experiences or hints how I could develop this approach further?

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