Archive for February, 2009

Do You Achieve Customer Intimacy?

Posted on February 10, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Special note to readers: This may be Leximancer’s ONLY holiday themed blog post, but pending feedback we’re willing to try again. ☺

With Valentine’s Day coming up, now is as good a time as any to ask yourself – do you achieve customer intimacy? Sure, you can throw all kinds of stuff at your customers that you think they might like, but do you really listen to them to understand specifically what they want? As with any relationship, intimacy will only be obtained by truly understanding and getting to know one another.

Michael Maoz of Gartner wrote an excellent blog post recently, “As CIO, you’ve said CRM is your differentiator. Now what?” In it, he cited from a recent Gartner survey that “the highest percentage of CIOs (54%) listed customer intimacy as their number one goal in technology and process projects.” For CIOs to really engage with their customers, they must listen to them, and also be both proactive and reactive – in order to achieve that closeness with a customer. Companies must understand the root cause behind customer opinion and not just count customers or search aimlessly for keywords in their comments, but rather respond with dialogue, or innovative new products and services that show clear understanding of customers’ needs and desires.

If like these CIO’s, achieving customer intimacy is at the top of your 2009 to-do list, you’ll need to acquire a deep understanding of what your customer is telling you. You can’t just throw out an occasional survey to solicit feedback. You need to decipher all customer input in whatever format they decide to give it – official or not. Because as with most relationships, they might be telling you ‘yes’ that they’re happy, but once you dig deeper into their comments, you’ll find the ‘buts’, ‘ands’, and ‘ifs’.

Keep checking in on the Customer Insight blog as Leximancer will be launching a new paradigm for measuring and monitoring customer intimacy over the coming weeks. Not only will this paradigm provide an executive friendly visualization for customer intimacy, it will also enable easy access to customer feedback points to address the problem outlined in our last blog post.

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Net Promoter Conference Recap

Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

We recently attended the Net Promoter Conference out in San Francisco and wanted to share some of the great insights we took away from our time there. Leximancer has a partnership with Satmetrix in which their Net Promoter customers can receive services based on The Customer Insight Portal alongside Satmetrix’s other solutions.

We were able to listen to some seasoned and brilliant professionals dedicated to building strong customer loyalty. One key takeaway from Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit, was that Intuit found 81 percent of sales are directly attributable to word of mouth. With so many companies like Intuit seeing the majority of the sales deriving from current customers, it underlines the urgency of getting to the root of what customers are saying online.

Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com was another source of inspiration.  Zappos’ company DNA is all about providing a great customer experience.  And it really seems that customer comments really drive the energy they have; they love getting positive customer comments. They don’t just use a Net Promoter score in isolation, or any other metric in isolation for that matter, because they want to understand what the exact customer opinion is. As Bruce Temkin, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, pointed out, the value of the Net Promoter score isn’t as a metric, but rather as part of an approach for improving customer loyalty.

As we’ve talked about previously, we think online and social media communities can dramatically alter marketing research. The conference highlighted one company doing exactly that. Mars insists on getting to know their community and customers on the MY M&M’s community site. They look at all verbatim customer comments they receive through this ‘organic’ channel, rather than rely on slow study-oriented methods.  Understanding all of their customer comments helps companies like M&M unleash ‘the wisdom of crowds.

Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from the conference is that customers are a fantastic source, even the best source, for innovation. Wait for it…

To learn from customers and achieve real, actionable insight that drives innovation, customer feedback must be systematically understood and quantified in order to be acted upon. Reading comments one at a time, or worse coding them manually, will not provide a complete circle of feedback unless programmatic, ongoing, active listening and analysis happens.

It is refreshing for us at Leximancer to hear these same sentiments that we’ve built our company on delivered at the Net Promoter Conference. Not only did the conference reiterate to us the importance of the customer voice and influence, but also how imperative it is for companies to systematically understand customers and innovate for competitive advantage.

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Gut Versus Data: Making Decisions For Your Corporation

Posted on February 3, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Thomas Wallgum, an editor at CIO Magazine, had a recent article with a surprising admission from a study conducted by Accenture – 40 percent of major corporate decisions are made by instinct, not data.

This might seem surprising at first but it becomes more understandable considering that most executives receive data in hard-to-understand formats that require the expertise of a technical person to change in order to ‘ask another question.’ If the standard report is off target from a pressing question or issue, tough. At my last company, we had access to a database created by the Finance team via OLAP. It was next-to-impossible to change the reporting criteria, which made the data static and inflexible to meet the company’s changing needs—or more importantly the customers’ changing needs. And, no surprise, when you dig deeper into the CIO Magazine survey, it seems that 61 percent of executives felt that gut decisions were best because good data wasn’t available.

Even where traditional business intelligence solutions have evolved to more of dashboard visualization, they only focus on the “what”. As an example, if customer retention in Market X in Country Y is falling, you need to know more than the fact that this is the case – you need to know “why” it is falling which is something that only the unstructured data living in call center notes, CRM systems or in verbatim survey responses can tell you.

Despite the advances in dashboard visualization for structured data, 36 percent of executives felt their company lacked the analytical talent they needed to make use of the data they have. As these businesses start mining the unstructured data for the “why” the need for automated, easy access to that data, without any set-up, will be critical, as will the visualization capability to quickly get to the insights required.

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