PBTO4: Getting Hooked On Customers With Bob Thompson

Bob Thompson
Bob Thompson

Welcome to episode number 4 of “Pushing Beyond the Obvious”. In this episode, we have with us Bob Thompson, CEO & editor of www.customerThink.com, the biggest online community about customers and customer centricity.

Bob has recently released his book #HookedOnCustomers. We shall talk to him today about what does customer centricity mean and everything that goes along with it.

We talk about

  • The fact that most customer centric organizations are such, because their operational fabric is such that they do listen to their customers and act upon it and this is not part of a special program or a project.
  • CRM, Customer Experience Management, social businesses & big data have become buzz words and without the right culture behind the efforts, they do more harm to the business. 
  • The role of Chief Customer Officers & how it is critical to have the CEO assume that role.
  • Some of the mistakes that firms do in their journey towards becoming customer centric and how they can avoid them.
  • What role can the sales, marketing and customer service teams play in the journey
  • When is it not a good idea to listen to your customers (with a good example).
  • The steps that he outlines in his book, Hooked on Customer (which by the way is a great book & you should pick it up): Listen, Think, Empower, Create & Delight.

This chat provides some very good insights if you want to or already are on your journey to becoming customer centric.

Hope you enjoy the chat.

You can connect with Bob on www.hookedoncustomers.com or www.customerthink.com.


Are Twitter Contests the Next Big thing in Customer Engagement?

In the last 2 weeks, I have seen a flurry of twitter contests being run by various brands, including news channels (ABP News), Software Marketers, Film studios, Fashion brands, TV stations, Online retailers, Comedy shows and a lot more.

The common themes in all these contests were:

–       You are enticed to participate in the competition via the possibility to win a gift coupon or some sort of prize

–       You are required to follow the brand’s twitter ID.

–       You are required to answer a set of questions and retweet the questions to your followers

In my opinion, the primary aim of all these contests seems to be:

–       Get more people to follow them

–       Get more impressions (through RT’s)

–       Get their brands to trend on twitter

These are easy to measure metrics, which they can then use to show brand engagement and the Returns on the Investment.

This seems to be a quick win for the brands as the participation levels in most of these contests seem to be quite good and they are able to add significant number of followers to the brands twitter handle (though, that by itself should not be the primary aim for the brands).

What is not known so far is the potential for continued engagement of these people with the brand?

In my opinion, the questions that these brands need to answer are the following:

–       How do we continue to engage with the gained followers post the contest?

–       Do we make such contests a recurring event (weekly or fortnightly) so that the amount of engagement continues to be high? How long can this momentum be maintained?

–       How can we tie these contents to the other marketing campaigns that the brand is considering?

–       Is it possible for the brand to be able to tie these contests to a social cause that the brand can associate with so that, not only does the brand gain more impressions on twitter but is able to support a cause while at the same time get some good PR.

PS: Some brands that did run twitter contests this month are Audi India, Dalal Street Journal, Disney India, Domino’s Pizza, Dreamscape Film Co, Elle, Garnier, ICICI Lombard, Jockey India, Kiehl’s India, L’Oréal Paris India, Lakme India, LP – Louis Philippe, MadOverDonuts, MaxIndiaLtd, MaybellineIndia, Micromax Mobile, Myntra.com, Nissan India, OUATIM Dobaara (movie), Tata Nano, Veet India, Zee Studio, SAP India, ABP News, Apollo Hospitals, AXN India

Just the variety of brands indicates that this has been successful across sectors, industries and business models.

Engaging Your Customers Is Not Sufficient Anymore

We are in an era where we are grappling with too much choice.  Consumers today are facing a challenge in keeping up with the different choices they have.

Every product or service category has become crowded (maybe apart from some categories like online search, where Google still continues to have substantial market share). In this scenario, having a meaningful engagement with your customers has become table stakes for any business to survive and thrive.

So, the question that every marketer grapples with is “How can my Product/service stand out in this crowded marketplace?”.

Some marketers try to stand-out by providing exceptional products/service/engagement (Apple)

Some try to come up with stunning advertisements and marketing campaigns for their products/services (Coke).

Some try to use the new age media to engage with their customers and build communities (SAP).

Irrespective of what strategy we use as a marketer, we need to be able to “Surprise” and “Inspire” our customers. If we are able to do both, we would have their attention and affection.

Doing these alone is not sufficient for a product/service to stand out and be successful. The product/service needs to be good quality, address a specific need for a customer, engage the customers in meaningful ways. All these are table stakes without which you do not stand a chance.

But by themselves, you don’t stand a chance to win over your customers.

Find creative ways to both “Surprise” and “Inspire” your customers.

How does your organization go about doing this?

Share your experiences about when were you “surprised” or “inspired” as a customer/consumer.

PS: Some integrated campaigns which have both “Surprised” and “Inspired” me are below:









Dear Facebook: Please Give Us A ‘Sympathize’ Button

Vinay Iyer recently wrote a very interesting post about the importance of Capturing the real 360 degree ‘Voice of the Customer.

You can read the post here: Dear Facebook: Please Give Us A ‘Sympathize’ Button.

There are some very interesting things that he talks about:

Find smart ways to “mobilize the promoters” and “recover the detractors.

He also explains why context is key in any form of survey done with the customers.

Though, I agree with all of his suggestions, I still think that this is a reactive way to engage with your customers and could work for simple transactional situations. For example, this process works really well if you are selling books on the web (like amazon.com or selling a consumer durable products.

In situations which are more complex, like for example, selling enterprise software to large corporates, the execution of the process breaks down. There are many reasons to this, most important being

  • Long sales cycles involving multiple engagements between the buyer and seller organizations involving many different people. In this situation, everyone has a different view of the elephant, so to say, and hence, no one able to provide the right context, in which case, the entire premise of the net promoter score and the contextual feedback is lost.

So, how does one get this contextual information in this situation?

In my opinion, we should then change the question a bit, in order to gain the insight:

  • Instead of asking if “Would you recommend the product/service to your friend”, we could ask “Would you recommend this engagement to your peers in the industry?” and then add the contextual question – why?

What this does is the following:

  • Collect the feedback relevant to the most recent engagement with the buyer and provide the contect to it (good or bad)
  • This infomation is clearly insightful and actionable for the team that did the engagement with the buyer and provides them an opportunity to improve their engagement model.
  • This also helps the seller to identify and fix any process or engagement that is broken so that he can continuously improve their sales process.

This can then prove to be the foundation on which the 360 degree customer engagement model can then be built.

PS: He also provided some interesting ideas for Facebook to work on (creating a dislike, sympathise, want or a Jealous (ok, this was my addition to the list) buttons apart from the Like button that they already have.

You can follow me on twitter: @rmukeshgupta