Barn Swallow is not the brightest bird, nor is it the prettiest . Swarms in huge numbers. But these swallows never collide, despite their great numbers… In short, the swarm, collectively, is smarter than each bird. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosyfinch/5286652808/
The hawk IS one of nature’ s brightest birds. Faster/stronger than a hundred swallows. Yet when it attacks a swarm of swallows, it almost always come up with empty talons. Collectively, when a hawk is zooming toward them, the swallows organize, collaborate & cooperate and they do it very, very fast. They outsmart the hawk almost every time. Scientists call this” collective wisdom.” Essentially it means that “ we ” is smarter than “ you. ” We humans have it too.
They guy with the white hair is Albert Einstein. In the background is a very large crowd. I’ m not sure who ’ s in it, but I ’ m pretty sure there are lots of really dumb people, mixed in with about the same number of brilliant ones. In between there ’ s a lot of very average folk. James Suroweicki wrote a book called the Wisdom of Crowds. He talks about a British county fair… The crowd beat the experts every time. In business your customers, and prospects, are your crowd. Some are brilliant and some…not so much. But collectively, they are smarter than you are. They’ re also smarter than your CEO, so don ’ t feel badly. Just understand that collectively what customers tell you is very valuable to your company. Gathering what they think is the first crucial step in becoming what I call a Customer-centric company.
Ian—I need a new slide here: 4 attributes of customer wisdom: 1. Speed 2.Self-organization 3. collaboration 4. Predictive
Malcolm Gladwell is my favorite business author. His second book “ Blink, ” was about how fast people make decisions-- often in a fraction of a second. The surprise is that the decisions we make in a blink are very often right. Thanks to online conversations, we don’ t just decide fast, we share our thoughts in a blink with friends and colleagues who then make decisions in a blink as well and then pass on their thoughts to others. My point is that decisions are being made about your products & brand at great speed. You need to bake into your enterprise process the ability to listen, respond and change at far faster pace than was required back in the ancient times of say 2005, before Twitter, Facebook and the rest upped the tempo.
Downtown Beijing. No traffic cops. No lights. No signs. Not many accidents. Messy but it works. I could also show you people on sidewalks of NYC walking on the right or London—on the left. This goes to the aging concept that companies can command and control customer behavior. You cannot. They are the ones in control. The self-organizing capability of your customers actually makes your job easier than it used to be. All you need to do is join the conversations that are popping up on Facebook on Twitter and all over the internet. Your company will profit because you are going with the natural flow.
The wooly mammoth was a huge and ferocious creature. They also could feed & clothe a tribe for months. But to succeed, cave dwellers had to work together to hunt, move, carve and distribute the meat and fur for clothing. A primitive supply chain was required. Collaboration is an essential part of human nature, hot-wired into our DNA. What has this to do with the customer-centric enterprise? It is fundamental to the concept. If you collaborate with your customers, rather than attempt to cleverly manipulate them, they will help you build better goods and services. If you are candid with them, they be candid with you. They will also collaborate with each other, reducing costs of support, market research, public relations, advertising and so on. “ Working ” with is so much more powerful than “ selling to. ”
Intelliquest was leading proprietary research firm of its time. Microsoft, IBM, Apple & Dell: Zandan: “ I can ’ t tell you anything about your next customer. But I can tell you a great deal about your last one. Chances are your next one will be very similar. ” Now we can learn lots about our customers, particularly through social media. And from that we can predict the behavior of customers in the future with a fair amount of accuracy. By reviewing and analyzing real people talking in their own voices, you have something far more powerful and accurate, than any market research has ever provided. If you become customer-centric, then today’ s customer ’ s will give you a good sense of tomorrow ’ s customers & prospects I can think of no greater value, to what we ’ re talking about.
All thru your organization customers and prospects are leaving you intelligent, valuable thoughts about products & services, how you sell or brand. They do it in reviews and by asking and answering questions. They do it in front of your retail shelves and on the phone. They do it on Twitter and Facebook in blogs and on YouTube. They also do it in-stores and on support lines. It’ seems to me that in business these days, we are calling all sorts of inanimate objects intelligent: market intelligence, business intelligence, smart phones, etc. All those things are actually dumb if you think about it. So are numbers on spreadsheets. None of those things actually think or feel. People are what’ s intelligent. And they can also be very passionate which is equally important. When a company forgets that, then they end up measuring the wrong things. Wherever your company interfaces with customers, there is intelligence to be gathered. When marketers trust numbers more than people, that seems to me to be dumb.
Ian can you doctor or replace this slide that I lifted from Google images? Would look best with customers in the center rather than a word on an oval. Narrative: Some forward-thinking companies are seeing the value of customer wisdom. They have started to restructure their operations based on what customers have to say. They are finding enterprise-wide advantages. Listening is an important first step, but what comes after that is where improvements happen.
Some smart companies have figured out that the most powerful organizations are built around the customer. They are using new tools to allow customer-centric scaling. This is not touchy-feely stuff. Customer centricity is a hard-nosed strategy. It is like many b-to-b partnerships. To succeed both company & customer can-and do-see benefits. Social tools allows insight and information to be shared at great speed and this requires companies to respond and adjust with a great deal of agility. Lethal Generosity—Molson.
This is the Dell Listening & Command Center. They monitor an average of 22K conversations every day. The question is: THEN WHAT HAPPENS? Using a relatively small team, Dell takes what it hears, and distributes these social media comments to the right few people among there 100,000 employees who can use that input. It can be someone in product, support, product development or investor relations: whoever is most relevant to the topic discussed. That input is used to improve products, services or whatever. A few get answered by the person most qualified to do so. They call it a listening center. But to me it is more than that. It is really where listening is turned into intelligence and that intelligence is a strategic imperative for the company.
Let me give you an example of how customer comments can get very large companies to adjust course and make corrections quickly. Not long ago Kraft redesigned it’ s salad dressing bottles. The new design passed all internal tests, and I would guess, a focus group or two. But when the new bottles started leaving the shelves and going home, customers were cutting their fingers on the redesigned foil. They didn ’ t notify the company, as far as I know. But they did go onto the social networks and tell each other about the problem. The people Kraft was listening. After just a few negative comments, they reported the problem back to the design people who quickly fixed it. Shelves were restocked with the safe version in just a few weeks. In short, Kraft averted disaster by listening and responding to customer complaints and they did it very, very quickly. They didn’ t just listen, the acted. They didn ’ t just act, they did it rapidly before the company ’ s brand was tarnished.
Doesn’ t that salsa look tasty? Fact is, the stuff got spooned out of a Pace Picante bottle for a new series of print and TV ads. For years Pace ads displayed the stuff in a bottle. But then social media came along and the company picked up tweets that talked about how unappealing Salsa-fro- a-bottle seemed in the TV spot. “ Any restaurant who salsa out of a bottle will not get my return business, ” one woman posted. So Pace redid it’ s ad. Now you never see the bottle. The new ad makes me want to dip a chip right now. Apparently it works that way for others as well. The company is not specific, but says sales increased significantly with an old product shown in a more appealing way. Sales rose, and stayed up.
In 1912, Leon Leonwood Bean started selling boots by catalog. Nearly all of the first boots he shipped turned out to have leaks. He took them all back, borrowed money to make & ship replacements back to customers for free. He lost money, but gained loyalty. And LL Bean was born. Based on the first disastrous experience and it’s recovery, Bean made the company slogan “ Satisfaction Guaranteed. ” It started making money. Last year Bean took in $1.75 billion. The slogan Satisfaction Guaranteed remains and it’ s connected to both brand and company strategy. They make good. One example: Last year, Bean offered a “ Cashmere layering sweater. Nice sweater. But if you didn ’ t understand that “ layered ” meant you needed to wear it over other clothes, the photo and text didn ’ t make it very clear. So when customer reviews started appearing they were mostly one and two star ratings. Customer reviewers complained product was uncomfortable, even itchy. Such reviews didn’t generate sales. It did generate attention at Bean. LLBean distributes reviews across its organization every Monday. Winners and losers are identified by Thursdays. 1& 2 star reviews are distributed to product managers daily. They analyze to see if it ’s a copy confusion… Signs of a product failure… or something else. What they had in this case was a communications problem, not a defective product. They changed the copy to make it clear what “ layered ” meant—as well as the photo. The changes were made quickly and the product is now doing well. In days of old—like 2008, the product would have lingered in limbo for months. Since people weren’ t telling the company what was wrong, the sweater may have been spiked. Instead they saw the problem through the reviews, made some copy changes. They saved a product while simultaneously giving customers the satisfaction that Bean has been guaranteeing for 100 years.
Every one of us probably has one or more Rubbermaid products in our home. Many of them have existed for years and years—They don’t look like they’ve changed much, sometimes, but they really are being refined all the time based on both research and customer intelligence. Every now and then, there’ s a mismatch. A while ago, market research indicated Rubbermaid sink mats should protect customers from bacteria. So the company made some changes that would kill germs that may gather in your sink. Sounds like a smart move, but very soon after, they started receiving low-scoring reviews [like the two you’re seeing in gray] from customers. Turns out that the germ-killer also caused the mats to discolor and hold stains. The customer reviews said most people want clean looking sinks more than bacteria- free sinks. But that’s not what the experts said. Rubbermaid could stick with their researchers or they could listen to customers. It was a no-brainer for this customer-centric company. Rubbermaid quickly changed back to the old mats. The product survived the bump and as you can see Rubbermaid got user raves for listening as wel as you can see by the two green quotes in the slide.
Go point by point. Ask for questions.
1. Letting Customer Intelligence Drive Your Business #UGCideas