Mailchimp's chief customer officer shares ways to get closer to customers

More than any company I've found, Mailchimp works to create better listening opportunities with their customers. It's not enough to pay attention when customers speak up. We have to prompt customers to share. At Mailchimp they try to make it fun and productive. 

Fast Company: MailChimp’s cofounder shares the best ways to get to know your customers, 2018-Sep-23 by Dan Kurzius

Visit your customers where they live or work... 

Invite customers into your office... 

Be your customer for a day... 

Early on, we decided that our motto was going to be, “Listen hard, change fast.” For us, this meant constantly looking for improvement and innovating quickly, and letting the customer dictate our focus as a company. 

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Best practice... Get out... the newsletter

If you work in a big company and your job is getting the newsletter out, you have challenges, but the newsletter gets out there. For people like myself, independent or in small organizations, regular release of the newsletter is hard. 

Getting a newsletter out is a matter of "showing up." You wouldn't miss an appointment with a client, would you? Never blow off the newsletter because is going to be late. If you miss an issue due to catastrophe, share that story with your readers. Act like it makes a difference, and it will. 

I highly recommend Ann Handley's newsletter to all communications professional. She's inspiring. Learn more.  

Total Annarchy: Email is the OG,... 2018-Sep-23 by Ann Handley

I talk a lot about the need to put your reader first. To serve an audience. To make something that you love in service to those who will miss you if you don't show up on time.

This isn’t an original idea: Lorne Michaels used to say that Saturday Night Live didn’t go on because the cast was ready; it went on because it was 11:30 on a Saturday night.

You show up because you promised others you would.... 

Years ago, I heard Darren Rowse of Problogger speak in Denver. He told the audience, “Your next big thing might be the little thing that’s staring you right in the face right now.”

Of course, for that little thing to grow into a big thing, you’ve got to make a promise to yourself to do it.

So many people I’ve met this fall have shared their big goals with me. They want to write a book. Or they want to be invited to speak more. Or they want to make an impact in one important way or another. But I don’t know where to start. Or how do I fit it in?

The truth is that it’s hard. But it’s not magic.

You have to show up. And then you have to start. Then keep going. One foot. Next foot.

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Customer empathy games proposed by IDEO

IDEO has developed a very good program to help companies get their employees to empathize with customers. If employees are not users of the product, customer empathy is always an ongoing challenge.  

Harvard Business Review: To Get Employees to Empathize with Customers, Make Them Think Like Customers, 2018-Sep-28 by Erin Henkel and Adam Grant

What’s the best way to cultivate empathy? The standard answer is to spend more time with customers. For example, leaders at IBM, Medtronic, and Microsoft have sent their people out to meet customers and see their products in use. But recently at IDEO, we’ve been encouraging companies to go a step further. Instead of just getting to know the customer, we want employees to become the customer.

The idea is to create an embodied experience for employees, rather than just a conversation. People learn much more when they are physically engaged in an activity, not just talking about it. But you can’t just take employees through the actual customer experience. They already know it like the back of their hands; it’s too easy for them to get defensive and justify the way they already do things.

Instead, we bring people into different contexts — removed from typical day-to-day company operations — that can serve as a metaphor for what customers experience and therefore jolt employees into a more empathetic stance.

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Why innovation sucks

It's not the fear of failure... it's the agony of learning too late!

Yes & Know Blog: What do you need to know? 2018-Sep-19 by Nilofer Merchant 

There’s a learning curve for all new things. We need to learn the interdependencies of decisions, what people are capable of, who is good at what, what key decisions need to be made and in what order and so much more.

Just like I had never done a remodel, most organizations need to grow by doing something they’ve never done before. But we want to do it as efficiently, as effectively and as fast as if we know everything we need to know. But we don’t know. That’s the bottom line. There’s no way I could have known that countertops were the key decision until I learned countertops are the key design decision.

In business… as we seek out new growth areas or brand new product lines, we don’t know what we don’t know. We want to believe we can know, or that we can hire outside resources who already know. But the reality is always different. You don’t know what you don’t know until you do.

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The leading edge in strategies for customer loyalty

As ad agencies invest more in time and effort to understand behavioral science, new strategies are being developed to deepen customer loyalty. Transactional loyalty is being left behind as if it were just price discounting (which it is). 

The Wise Marketer: Four Loyalty Lessons from Behavioral Science, 2018-Sep-18 by Charlie Hills

 4 lessons for loyalty marketers:

1. Good member engagement is heavily reliant on the smart application of creativity, data and contextual relevance. Use all three, not just one in developing your loyalty strategies.

2. Invest the time and resource to understand what the data actually means.

3. By building communities which interact, share and even gift points or rewards to each other, marketers can improve programme effectiveness.

4. Simplicity, personalization, and tapping into the subconscious should be 3 areas of focus for programs.

[Emphasis added.]

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Better customer relationships require contextual analysis

Every time a supplier misinterprets our customer behavior, we get a little more frustrated. Most CRM systems don't even have the ability to track the context of a purchase. So the salespeople and customer service representatives have to take the initiative, find out what's going on, and record it. The companies that figure out how to train their people and update their systems to track this, they will be the loyalty winners. 

Edge Perspectives: Navigating From the Industrial Age to the Contextual Age, 2018-Aug-15 by John Hagel

The forces shaping the Big Shift are progressively undermining standardization and efficiency (as conventionally defined) as drivers of value creation. As consumers, we’re gaining more and more power and we’re less and less willing to settle for standardized products and services – we want offerings that are tailored to our unique and evolving needs. On the supply side, digital technology is making it easier and far more affordable to produce highly personalized products and services. That’s leading to more and more fragmentation in product and services businesses, something that I’ve explored here.

As these forces play out, context is becoming more and more central to value creation. If we don’t pay attention to the circumstances surrounding a person or an event, we’re unlikely to understand how to create the greatest personalized value. Those who are most insightful and adept at understanding context, will be those who create the most value, both for customers and for themselves.

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Metabolic myths

My personal experience is that you need to weigh yourself daily and chart what you're eating. (Similar to a food diary but easier.) Download my chart. I've discovered the easiest way to gain weight is to overeat protein. Desserts are less of a problem. EVERYONE is different!  

Vox: What I learned about weight loss from spending a day inside a metabolic chamber, 2018-Sep-4 by Julia Belluz

Studying thousands of subjects in the metabolic unit — the chambers plus NIH hospital wings for patients with diabetes and obesity — has helped researchers show how adaptable the metabolism is, and how it works with our appetite, body composition, and physical activity levels to adjust the calories we’re burning at any moment.

For example, by giving people a medication that causes them to lose (through their urine) an extra 360 calories per day, they’ve shown that we unknowingly compensate for those calories lost by eating more.

They’ve found that exposing people to cold temperatures while they sleep causes them to accumulate more brown fatfat tissue whose main function is heat production — and burn more calories. (These results reversed completely when the study participants slept in warmer temperatures again, revealing how dynamic metabolism is.)

In a remarkable study of Biggest Loser reality TV show participants with obesity, researchers showed that crash dieting can permanently slow a person’s metabolic rate, leading them to hang on to the calories they were eating for longer, though this isn’t true for everybody who loses weight.

The big theme in many of these studies: Our metabolism silently shifts under new conditions and environments in ways we’re not usually aware of.

When it comes to diets, the researchers have also debunked the notion that bodies burn more body fat while on a high-fat and low-carb ketogenic diet, compared to a higher-carb diet, despite all the hype.

“We could have found out that if we cut carbs, we’d lose way more fat because energy expenditure would go up and fat oxidation would go up,” said Kevin Hall, an obesity researcher at NIH and an author on many of these studies. “But the body is really good at adapting to the fuels coming in.” Another related takeaway: There appears to be no silver bullet diet for fat loss, at least not yet.

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