Living in trouble

Does the fact you have info about your customers' behavior change their expectations?

If you have a restaurant and customers use Facebook to announce their presence, do those customers expect the restaurant to notice? What if they are checking in frequently? Do they feel the restaurant should acknowledge them?  IStock_000021552541XSmall

We don't have good answers yet, but as this Harvard Business Review article points out, large chains like Starbucks now have access to this information and can integrate it into their loyalty programs. We expect that as customers experience such benefits at our competition, the customers will expect us to catch up at some point. 

Harvard Business Review: The Internet of Things is Changing How We Manager Customer Relationships, 2015-Jun-5 by Ric Merrifield

Now you can have visibility into everything. Not only can you tell that Customer A (who has a shopping app) went into a Lord & Taylor store to buy an expensive pair of shoes (which you could know with CRM). In addition, you can know how long they were in the store, where they walked, and whether they lingered or went straight to the shoe department and bought the shoes. Then, you can compare that visit to every visit to that store that Customer A has had (since getting the app), and you can at least infer what is most valuable to her. If she is always a get-in, get-out kind of shopper, speed of service may be her #1 thing. If she spends a great deal of time shopping, maybe price or product selection is her thing. If she buys a lot at the store, maybe she wants some form of recognition for her loyalty (whether it’s points or just a “welcome back”). If you compare online experiences with in-store experiences and weekend vs. weekday behaviors, your picture of the customer becomes three-dimensional very fast.

As exciting as it can be to talk about this and to see that it is happening right now in broad daylight, talking about how to assess customer experiences and how to engage customers differently when they have this information gets complicated quickly. The important thing is to acknowledge that the measurements of yesterday may need an overhaul, and to understand where your customers are on the acceptance-expectation path so you can try to stay with, if not get ahead of, them.  An increasingly common method for getting a handle on this is documenting the customer (and employee) experience journeys.


Resuscitating the Email Newsletter

I've been worried about the email newsletter. Although it's one of the most reliable ways to provide steady customer relationship management, they are so difficult to write well. But maybe it's not the writing but the content. In the article below, Blaise Lucey makes a great comparison of the spontaneity and sense of discovery we experience in social media, in contrast to the predictability of most email newsletters. I'm inspired to follow his advice.  IStock_000019856909XSmall

Moveable Ink blog: Why Live Social Media Feeds Are the Future of Email + Social, 2015-Apr-27 by Blaise Lucey

We don’t expect much from brand emails. If we get a great sale, we’re happy.

Social media, on the other hand, is something we expect to be entertaining and unpredictable. Aside from keeping up with friends (or at least stalking them), there’s an endless amount of multimedia that people can watch, listen to, and share.

That’s why people spend a lot more time on social media channels than checking their inboxes: the content changes and it’s dynamic.

With live social media feeds, you can bring that experience to the inbox. This offers a way to connect your social and email channels like never before.


How to live without being defined by edges

I spend way too much time reading. But occasionally I stumble across something that blows open my mind, making it possible for me to reach the next level of achievement, or something... a higher state of existence. If you want to go there youself, stop reading this and instead read The Web's Grain by Frank Chimero. You'll enjoy it more if you have a big screen and you may want to turn your sound low if people are nearby.  

I have a habit of drawing circles that represent a day in my life and then to divide it up and try to proportion my interests to the amount of time I have. The worst part is when I actually label the time of the day on the slices. I'm defining my life by its edges. In real life, I'm always running over those slice edges as things take longer than I anticipated. 

If the edge of a slice is the time when we have to leave to pick up a child from school, then we need to put an alarm bell on it. Otherwise we need to understand that these edges limit us. 

I want to live a life filled with passion. When we're immersed in what we're doing, then we go into "flow," and lose our sense of time. We wake up and realize we've gone over the slice edge. 

We cannot live with passion and define our life by slices. Instead we have to assemble the pieces of our lives in a way that they can hold together. It happens all the time in real life. Things just cohere or stick together. The parts grow unevenly and the shape is unexpected. 

David Hockney: Billy Wilder Lighting His Cigar, 1982

Hockney3

FrankChimero.com: The Web's Grain, 2015-Feb-20 by Frank Chimero

Simply put, the edgelessness of the web tears down the constructed edges in the company. Everything is so interconnected that nobody has a clear domain of work any longer—the walls are gone, so we’re left to learn how to collaborate in the spaces where things connect....

The size of what we’re making is unknown until we know what we’re putting there. So, it’s better to come up with an arrangement of elements and assign them to a size, rather than the other way around. We need to start drawing, then put the box around it. ...the perfect example of not drawing the box until you know what goes in it. [Emphasis mine.]

...we’re creating assemblages of elements, then associating them with the appropriate space.... 

You could say that our current technological arrangement has spread out too far, and it is starting to look and feel wrong. Fortunately, we can treat this over-expansion just like everything else I’ve mentioned. We can draw a line, and create a point of reassembly for what we’ve made. We can think about how to shift, move, and resize the pieces so that they fall back in line with our intentions.


Practice, practice, practice

Sigh. I'm addicted to learning and not to practicing. It's really biting me now.

JamesClear.com: Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More, 2015-March

We assume that if we knew about a better strategy, then we would get better results. We believe that a new result requires new knowledge.

What I’m starting to realize, however, is that new knowledge does not necessarily drive new results. In fact, learning something new can actually be a waste of time if your goal is to make progress and not simply gain additional knowledge.

It all comes down to the difference between learning and practicing.


When do we get to print the marketing?

For most of us marketers, printing has become a luxury. We don't avoid printing because we think people don't enjoy it (when done properly). We don't avoid it because it isn't profitable (when done properly). We avoid it because it requires a capital outlay and a risky expense that we can avoid by putting our message out digitally.  Tq-120807-dm

NY Times: Catalogs, After Years of Decline, Are Revamped for Changing Times, 2015-Jan-25 by Rebecca R. Ruiz

Some of their catalog forays, however, barely resemble the traditional merchandise book. These days, retailers are employing devices like adventure tales and photo spreads of wildlife to catch a shopper’s eye, hoping to secure purchases online or in a store.

Luring a specific customer base seems to be part of the strategy underlying J. C. Penney’s surprise announcement this month that it would revive a home goods catalog in March, three years after the struggling company discontinued all such mailings. Its new version will focus not on recruiting new customers but on reaching existing ones, according to a spokeswoman. Whether the company will resume a regular schedule for sending out seasonal or general merchandise catalogs remains unclear. ... 

With “so much clutter and information overload,” said Rohit Deshpande, a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, “just getting attention is the hardest thing to do right now for brands. It’s conceivable that trying catalogs again is a way to do it.”

Mr. Deshpande said research showed that frequency helped consumers process marketing messages, but some studies suggested diminishing returns after three advertisements.

“The issue has always been: What do we have to do in order to get mind-share and not bore people?” Mr. Deshpande said. “Or, worse, turn them off?”


Why we need to understand what's driving growth of CRM software

The pressure for all organizations to adopt CRM software is not going away because our customers derive substantial benefits. Once they've worked with a firm that uses CRM data appropriately, they enjoy receiving more relevant updates, knowing that everyone at their supplier can understand their status, and being able to specify how they will be contacted. CRM software is an vital lever for improving customer experience and competing effectively for today's savvy consumers. And it can be used to drive down operating costs. It's never going away. 

Econsultancy: Seven reasons for the unstoppable rise of CRM, 2014-Nov-4 by Ben Davis

  1. A new set of customer expectations
  2. Mobile has dramatically changed data
  3. Business leaders work closer with IT leaders
  4. International markets
  5. Security and the cloud
  6. Working habits
  7. Automation and machine learning is here

Turning my Kindle off, and watching Amazon follow Walmart into the pits

I have been reading every long, deeply-researched article about Amazon recently, trying to find some renewed respect for them, with no luck. Turning off my Kindle, spending more on cat food, wondering what I left behind on my wish list... all these actions have been wrenching for me.  Tq140416td

My loyalty to Amazon was based on the amazing convenience they supplied. I have worried that their prices are "too low" to be healthy. Now there's evidence piling up that they are willing to exploit everyone else to maintain their control of the market. 

Sam Walton was a great guy with a vision to benefit society. Then his idea was high-jacked by a bunch of greedy people. Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, just seems to be on some kind of sick power trip. 

Low prices are not infinitely good. Long-lasting loyalty is based on transactions that benefit every side. 

Flavorwire: Amazon Publishing Goes American Idol After Terrible Week, 2014-Oct-3 by Jonathon Sturgeon

This is calculating, technology-driven corporatism that should, honestly, surprise no one. On this note, too, maybe it’s time for literary publishing to ask itself whether Amazon is actually evil or just indifferent to authors, editors, agents, and readers. (It’s customers, silly.) And if Big Publishing wants to compete with Amazon — although it really can’t, considering that Amazon dwarfs them all — maybe it should do so by finding new, pro-editorial platforms that humanize the publishing process.