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1. WHO OWNS YOUR BRAND?

Cadbury Schweppes stopped making its Wispa chocolate bar four years ago due to flagging sales. Over the summer, after massive noise from customers on FaceBook and YouTube called for its return, the company announced it would re-introduce the chocolate bar to the UK this month (October).

Nearly 14,000 people joined 'bring back Wispa' groups on Facebook, 'This is the first time that the power of the Internet played such an intrinsic role in the return of a Cadbury brand,' the company said.

A spokesman for Wolff Olins, the design and branding consultants, noted: 'It took discarding the brand for people to really want it. This is a good example of consumers owning the brand, versus the corporation.'

So who owns your brand? Some marketing analysts now recommend that Cadbury hand over ‘ownership’ of the brand positioning for Wispa bars to this customer community of 14,000, to maintain the customer loyalty and sense of ownership of the brand they have built up. Any lessons there for you to think about?

Scott Bedbury, the brand guru who was in charge of marketing at Nike and Starbucks during both those companies’ most spectacular growth periods, says one of the biggest blind spots organizations have is the idea that they own their own brand. In fact, he says, you have very little control over your own brand as it lives ‘out there’ in your customers’ heads. The resurrection of Wispa is a perfect example of that this month. The conceit that you own your own brand is what Jim Clemmer might call a ‘moose on the table’ (see below).

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2. IS THERE A MOOSE ON YOUR TABLE?

The Canadian customer service and leadership writer Jim Clemmer, whose articles feature in our articles area on http://www.ecmw.co.uk, is about to release a new book called The Moose On The Table.

The title refers to the great unspoken. There are always at least a couple of ‘great unspoken’ issues in an organisation that everyone ignores, because they feel helpless to do anything about them. Or because they challenge the organisation’s view of itself too much and would be seen as demoralising to acknowledge. It might be, for example "Everyone knows customers hate our call centre experience, but it’s ‘cost-effective’ to keep them waiting on the phone, so let’s not discuss it."

Jim, in common with a lot of gurus today, tells us we need to confront reality and deal with these issues rather than resort to corporate blindness. I like the way he ‘Canadianises’ it with the word ‘moose’. In other parts of the world they call it ‘the elephant in the room’.

Jim says that when you first join such a company and attend a meeting, you are mystified as to why there is "the stink of a dead moose carcass on the table in the middle of the room, yet no-one will refer to it or talk about it". Maybe you raise the issue and get the response "What dead moose?" After a couple more meetings, you, too, no longer notice the smell and see no point in raising the issue: the moose becomes invisible to you.

We all have these inconvenient truths in our organisation – a reality that challenges the official vision & mission statement and the feel-good business performance measures that can deliver a partial version of the truth. The best way to uncover them is to build a clear picture of the customer’s view of you as an organisation, and realise that THAT is the reality.

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3. THE SIGNS THERE MAY BE A MOOSE ON YOUR TABLE

Here are some of the signs, according to Jim Clemmer, that you may have a moose problem:

"Do you have a moose on your meeting room table? Here are a few symptoms:

* The real conversations happen in the hallways or office after the meeting. There the moose or issues are clearly named.

* Team members complacently agree to a consensus at the meeting – then go off and do their own thing. They don't voice their disagreements for fear that they'll be labeled as not being team players.

* Commitments aren't kept and deadlines are missed. It's considered whining or copping out for a team member to give his or her real opinion about the feasibility of the proposed change.

* Once the team leader gives his or her opinion, everyone else stays quiet or falls in line behind the executive. Team members suck up to the leader and pretend the moose doesn't exist.

* Sudden surprises often come "out of the blue" – especially from within the organization. The team leader is frequently surprised to see a simmering problem suddenly erupt into a full blown crisis.

* The team leader dominates meetings and most conversations. If he or she wants any of your ideas, he or she will give them to you."

If the moose relates to customers, the way to get people to recognise it is to draw up a clear picture of your customer experience and use that to challenge the internal view, on the grounds that the customer’s reality is the only reality that counts. If your customers are consumers, there are eight areas you need to consider when assessing their customer experience, outlined in item 4., below.

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4. EIGHT ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A B2C CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Eight key factors that B2C consumers report, in order of importance, define their customer experience:

HELPFULNESS: Are they really prepared to help me. Is nothing really too much trouble for their staff?

VALUE FOR TIME: Do they respect and make efficient use of my time?

RECOGNITION: When I contact them, do they recognise and acknowledge me as an individual?

PROMISE FULFILMENT: Do they keep the promises they made to me?

PROBLEM SOLVING: Do staff take ownership of my problems and try to resolve the situation?

PERSONALISATION: Do they take the trouble to know me and personalise the service to me

COMPETENCE: Do I feel their people really know what they are doing?

ACCESS: Is it easy for me to reach an appropriate person or facility?

Source: ‘What Makes A Great Customer Experience’, a report by the Henley Centre For Customer Management.

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5. A READER WRITES: VIRGIN ATLANTIC & LEG ROOM

I was fulsome in my praise of Virgin America’s new planes and how they are wired interactively so passengers help create their own in-flight customer experience in last month’s Start The Month email. Which prompted this email response from David Laing of Darola Consulting:

Phil,

Though I appreciate what you say about Virgin and their focus on customers just watch where you sit on one of their planes. I recently flew back from Newark and wondered why I had no room at my feet only to find it is the control box for the in flight entertainment. Made for a very uncomfortable night when you don’t want fun but sleep.

Regards,

David

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6. TOM PETERS’ RECOMMENDED BOOK

Tom Peters, one of our first ever keynotes with Anita Roddick (See below) back in 2001, has been praising the book ‘The Dream Manager’. His quotes from it, reproduced here, really struck a chord with me. Be warned, it’s one of those ‘parable’ books. But, even if you don’t like fiction in your business books (I don’t), Peters says this one is worth reading:

"I think Matthew Kelly's The Dream Manager is magnificent. Herewith, a couple of quotes from The Dream Manager, which may give you a flavour of the main argument:

"An organization can only become the-best-version-of-itself to the extent that the people who drive that organization are striving to become better-versions-of-themselves…A company's purpose is to become the-best-version-of-itself. The question is: What is an employee's purpose? Most would say, 'to help the company achieve its purpose'—but they would be wrong. That is certainly part of the employee's role, but an employee's primary purpose is to become the-best-version-of-himself or -herself. ... When a company forgets that it exists to serve customers, it quickly goes out of business. Our employees are our first customers, and our most important customers."

I have to agree with that. Most organisations are only just coming around to realising it.

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