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Why Your Customers Should Be Central To Your Innovation Efforts

There’s a big mistake that a lot of companies make. It’s one that until a few years ago was common in my own organization, and it stems from a worthy goal: to boost innovation. The mistake is adopting what I call the “science fair” mentality: encouraging employees throughout the organization to innovate freely but without much, if any, direct contact with the very customers these innovations are intended for.

Unconstrained innovation sounds exciting, like the sort of thing startups do. But the truth is that successful startups actually don’t do that, because they know that innovation without a framework rarely leads to business success. It does lead to inventions that are impressive and creative, but they ultimately prove impractical or irrelevant for driving business growth.

How, then, can you get employees to innovate products and services that actually improve the performance of your business? The answer is by creating a structure that involves your customers, from an early stage, in your innovation efforts.

Focusing on the customer (for real)

It’s a rare company these days that doesn’t claim to put its customers first. It’s also a rare company that doesn’t do market research. But what is exceptional is a company with a framework to channel innovative energies so that they solve customer pain points and result in a commercial outcome the market will pay for.

Getting employees to innovate products and services that improve the performance of your business requires a structure that involves customers, from an early stage, in your innovation efforts.

Building this framework does not mean stifling creative energies under a heavy layer of bureaucracy. Rather, it means making sure that the innovation responds to customer needs and has the flexibility to evolve as you better understand those needs.

For instance, one of the projects I lead at PwC, the Global Innovation Challenge, could be a model for your organization. Invite employees from around your network, from all disciplines, to submit early-stage, technology-enabled business solutions. But require that before a team can enter the contest, it must include examples of marketplace interest — not just an explanation of how (and how soon) the project will meet specific client needs, but also feedback from potential or actual clients on a prototype or pilot.

Internal incubators are also ways you can create ongoing feedback loops with the marketplace. Multiple customer and third-party interviews and growing signs of market interest are required for a project to receive and keep funding from these groups. As you assess the customers’ feedback, the teams make changes in line with the customers’ needs — and if the market response isn’t promising, you pull the plug.

Four steps to make customers your innovation partners

No part of this process is improvised: Criteria and milestones are critical, including a framework that ensures that the customers are guiding the innovation. To take just one example, before PwC New Ventures, an internal software-as-a-service incubator, releases the first round of funding for a project, it needs to see at least 20 interviews with customers. Indeed, many projects have more than 100 interviews over the development period.

Here are some ideas to get that innovation-guiding framework started:

1. Get specific. It’s not enough to say “talk to customers” or “research the market.” Set specific criteria for the quantity and quality of customer interviews.

2. Set milestones. Even after you’ve made the decision to invest in an innovative project, continue to check not just technical progress, but also customer feedback, on a regular basis.

3. Offer expert guidance. Brilliant technical minds aren’t always brilliant at interacting with customers. Assign a person or team to train technical people on customer outreach, and to do the outreach directly when needed.

4. Set procedures to react. Ensure that the team has the time and the processes to reflect on market feedback and adjust design appropriately. Be ready, if the feedback is poor, to terminate the project and reallocate resources.

What happens when you listen

A team at PwC recently developed a new tool for franchise owners designed to quickly, easily, and digitally market their stores. The team planned to make this digital platform the core feature of a new product.

Following our framework — and our core principle of customer-driven innovation — PwC team members reached out to customers. Listening to the franchise owners, the team learned that one of their top priorities was to support their customers, the franchisees. So the team members went back to work, adding components that the owners could use to help franchisees reach their end-users. The resulting product that was introduced to the marketplace attempted to solve problems for our clients while enabling them to solve problems for their clients.

The result of listening with empathy and emotional intelligence is that you will be able to not just mostly fulfill a customer’s needs but truly fulfill them, which is usually the difference between that customer ultimately buying or not buying your product.

Another big benefit of really listening is stronger customer relationships. After frequent interactions with your design teams to ensure that the final product will meet your customers’ needs, these customers start to view your people as partners and friends. And frequently, customers discover needs — which your new product or service can meet — that they didn’t even know they had.

If your innovation efforts are to truly add value to your business, customer-centricity will have to be more than a motto. It will have to be a framework to turn your customers into your innovation partners. The insights they bring will make all the difference in ensuring that the product not only solves their problems, but also provides an exceptional experience they’ll keep coming back for.

Vicki Huff By: Vicki Huff

Source: Why your customers should be central to your innovation efforts

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A Simple Hack to Discover What Your Customers Really Want

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As a business owner, you think about your customers every day. Still, it’s a good idea to make time to regularly reflect on how your products and services meet their current needs. This begs the question to small business owners and entrepreneurs alike: “What do my customers really want?”

 

There’s no single way to answer this question. How you gather your data will depend on your business, and it may change over time. Kabbage customers explain below a simple hack to getting to know your customers better: simply asking them.

 

Ongoing survey data guides bakery choices

The humble suggestion box used to be a fixture in many businesses seeking input from customers. Today, business owners have digital tools for gathering suggestions, making it easy to find out what customers want. Laura and Johnny Hobson, owners of Serendipity Cafe in Maynard, Massachusetts, make a habit of surveying customers on everything from bread preferences to cafe hours.

 

“We really try to connect with the community,” Laura says. When she and Johnny started out with a farmers market stand, they collected customer email addresses; in the cafe, customers can add addresses in the point-of-sale system. Laura and Johnny then use online tools like SurveyMonkey to ask for feedback.

 

The survey results guidedthe couple when they launched the cafe and new data helps them ponder new products and services. “When we were outgrowing the farmers market, we asked really specific questions about how often people would come to a cafe, what products they would buy, and what the town already had enough of,” Laura says.

Adjusting pricing and creating a welcoming vibe

 

For Michelle Baker, owner of Next Level Fitness and Personal Training in Kansas City, Missouri, asking, listening and observing is key to understanding what local residents needed. She worked for another personal trainer before opening her own gym, and heard clients complain about high prices for classes and personal training sessions.

As a 23-year resident of her moderate-income neighborhood, Baker knew that locals couldn’t afford hundreds of dollars a month for training. She also knew that her neighbors had unique wellness challenges, like diabetes and weight control, which might make them hesitant to work out in a crowded gym with body-building regulars. For many people in her community, fitness is about developing healthier habits.

 

When Baker launched Next Level Fitness with her husband in 2009, she knew that affordability and an inclusive, welcoming gym environment were key to growing the business. “We had to keep prices low enough so that the average person would come to us,” Baker says. Next Level offers an introductory six-week program of training sessions for $99, an accessible price point for her customers.

 

Baker and her husband boost cash flow by teaching small group training sessions. “That way we maximize the time we spend training,” she says. She’s also added services that will help her customers achieve their fitness and health goals, like nutritious ready-to-cook meals.

 

To ease customer concerns about working out with others, Baker posts regular videos on her Facebook page showing the diversity of body types, fitness levels and ages of her clients. “When people see the videos, they think ‘I see people who look like me,'” Baker says. “They know no one’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. We’re a smaller, friendly gym where everyone knows everyone, and no one feels out of place.”

What Is a Loyalty Program?

The idea of a loyalty program is designed as a marketing technique.Merchants use this technique as an encouragement to customers to patronize their products or services. Loyalty programs usually require customers to register so they can gain commitment points in every time https://www.pivot.one/share/post/5c7bbec5ad59e765d78df294?uid=5bd49f297d5fe7538e6111b6&invite_code=JTOJYV

5 Powerful Examples Of Social Media Customer Care – Alina Gorbatch

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Social media customer care doesn’t sound like something worth an entire article. After all, social media has been with us for a while. We know that customer care is important, we have business pages on multiple platforms, we reply to messages and direct tweets, solve tickets, and gradually forget how to use a phone. What else is there to do? Unfortunately, it turns out that most of us don’t do even that. Social media customer care suffers from a sheer lack of attention. Research shows that brands reply to only 11% of customers…….

Read more: https://www.jeffbullas.com/social-media-customer-care/

 

 

 

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

Why Customer Service Is Important To The Success Of Your Business – Salesforce

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Great customer support drives an amazing customer experience, especially when your support team moves beyond just reacting to problems and toward anticipating customers’ problems. When support agents are empowered to go above-and-beyond with customers, or have a help desk solution that makes it easy for them to upsell or cross-sell relevant services, they can create winning experiences that help you stand out from the competition……

Read more: https://www.salesforce.com/products/service-cloud/what-is-customer-service/?d=7010M000000uOnuQAE&ban=US_Pocket&dclid=CLD6rPvTnN4CFQFODAodGZsAwg

 

 

 

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

 

How To Turn a Bully Prospect Into a Paying Customer – Steli Efti

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Sure, not every sales call is going to go smoothly. But when a prospect turns into a bully, listing off all the reasons your product and company is terrible. It’s hard not to feel discouraged and not know what to do.

But there’s a mantra you can use in these situations to regain your confidence and turn a bully prospect into a paying customer. When they start yelling just ask yourself: If what we have is so bad why are they still talking to us?

The reason a prospect picked up the phone and called you is because they want to buy from you. Plain and simple.

However, they don’t want you to know this. Your prospects know that if they attack your confidence, they’re going to gain the upper hand in the negotiation. So they start rattling off a laundry list of reasons why they won’t buy from you:

  • You’re too expensive
  • You’re lacking critical features
  • Your company is too small
  • You’re not offering a big enough discount

And I get it. It’s hard to hear these things and still feel like you can sell at your best. But you need to remember that mantra: Why are they still talking to us?

If you’re too expensive, why did they both to waste more time and money by picking up the phone and calling you?

If you’re missing critical features, why are they even entertaining you as an option?

If they love what they currently have, or competitors are offering them a deeper discount, why even come to you (or anyone else) at all?

This is the key question you need to ask whenever a prospect starts trying to bully you. Because there’s only one logical reason why they’re still talking to you: They want what you’re selling.

Remembering this mantra puts you in a position of strength

Negotiations are all about power. And the stronger you can come into one, the better chance you have of getting everything you want. These bully reps know this, and they’re using it against you.

When most sales reps get yelled at or told their product is terrible, they lose their confidence. They think there’s no chance they’re going to get the sale and the only way they remotely might be able to is to fix all these problems and give the prospect everything they want.

They become insecure and end up in a position of weakness in the negotiation.

Yet by asking “Why are they still talking to us?” it puts you on equal ground with your prospect. You know they’re still interested in your product, despite their complaints that you’re too expensive or lacking features.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t more expensive than the competition. Or that you’re not missing features they’d like to have. What it does mean, is that these issues aren’t dealbreakers.

So, instead of feeling beaten by the bully, you can come back at them with a position of strength:

“Yes, we’re more expensive than the competition. However, we offer X, Y, Z, and our technology is better for these reasons…”

Your attitude needs to be, if we’re so bad why did you take the time to talk to us? And then remember that they came to you, because they want what you have.

When the prospect starts yelling, just remember, they called you

It’s easy to get shaken or lose your confidence when a prospect starts trying to bully you. But just remember, inside every bully, whether they’re on the schoolyard or a sales call, is someone looking for attention.

Look past their anger and frustration and ask: Why are they still talking to us?

You know why.

Write it out. Print it out. Tape it up on your desk. And whenever a prospect starts yelling or getting aggressive, look at it and use it to turn the negotiation into an even playing field.

Have you successfully turned a bully prospect into a paying customer? Tell me your stories in the comments below. 

Don’t let a bully prospect kill your confidence. Stay one step ahead with our free Objection Management Template.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.

What messaging means for the future of customer care

Have you ever spent time on hold with an airline, a credit card company, or your insurance provider? Of course you have, I bet you’re still humming the tune from that hold music you had to listen to. For years, the frustration of traditional customer service, be it phone or email, have pushed us all…

via What messaging means for the future of customer care — TechCrunch

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