Become Customer Centric - Get To Know Your Customers

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Mar, 08, 2016 @ 12:03 PM



I just read a great article about Dominique Ansel, whose brainchild, the cronut has made him a baking "rock star" in New York and beyond - if he wasn't already.

While I've never had a cronut, and never will due to allergies (wheat, milk, refined sugar), Dominique has a great perspective on the importance of engaging with customers to become more customer-centric.

As he shares, "The experience is crucial to what we do. I always put myself into the customers' shoes and think, what would make me happy?" How many of us are putting ourselves in the shoes of our customers? If you're not, you need to in order to create informed buyer personas and to view the problem to be solved from the customer's perspective.

Other quotes from the article that indicate that Dominique "gets it:"

  • "It's about giving people something true and authentic."
  • "They're emotional dishes that connect with people."
  • "It's more important for me to interact with people in person and communicate with them myself."
  • "People can sniff out when things lack soul."
  • "Don't be afraid of trying: trying new things, or trying to understand the customer base and what they like."
  • "Emotions are very important."
  • "It's about connecting with people and knowing what they like and why they like it."
  • "Understanding your customer is the most important part of the business."

I've written blog posts on all of these topics, but Ansel's quotes get right to the point.

Big data will provide a ton of data that will encourage you to take certain actions and predict what customers will want and do. However, nothing replaces having a face-to-face dialogue with your customer to provide insight into:

  • What makes your brand "different and better?"
  • How did you find us?
  • Who do you consider to be our customers?
  • What could we do to make your life simpler and easier?
  • What could we do to provide a better customer experience?

When in doubt, talk to your customers.


Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales


Tags: consumer insights, VoC, customer centric, face to face communications

Top 10 "Insights From Analytics" Blog Posts of 2014

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Dec, 30, 2014 @ 10:12 AM


Following are the most read blog posts during 2014.


Thank you for reading and sharing with others you think would be interested.


Please let me know if I can assist you, or your firm, in any way.


  1. Top 10 U.S. Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for 2013

  2. The Importance of Face to Face Communications

Happy New Year, have a great 2015!

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, customer experience, integrity, accelerate sales, net promoter score, NPS, face to face communications

Know Your Customers' Answers to These Questions to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 08, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

consumer insights accelerate sales









If you think you know your customer, think again.


Are you and your employees having a meaningful dialogue with your customers?


Not sure what to ask them?


Here are 10 questions, beyond the standard net promoter score (NPS) question I recommend everyone ask, you and your employees should be asking your customers to improve the customer experience and convert more prospects to customers:


  1. How did your first learn about us?

  2. Who else did you consider before you decided to give us your business?

  3. What do we do that is "different and better" than other companies like us?

  4. What do we not do as well as other companies with which you do business?

  5. What social media channels do you use?

  6. What can we do to provide what you would consider a "wow" customer experience?

  7. What can we do to save you time or simplify doing business with us?

  8. What should we tell others to get more customers like you?

  9. Can you refer us to any family, friends or colleagues that may benefit from our products/services in the same way you have?

  10. Will you please let us know if we ever do anything to cause you to reconsider doing business with us?


The more you, and your employees, talk to your customers, the stronger the relationship, and the emotional connection with your brand, will be.


People like to do business with people they know, like and trust.



Customers also like to help those companies that are going "above and beyond" to provide a great customer experience.


Simply by asking customers for their feedback, you're letting them know that you are concerned with what they think about you and the experience you are providing.


Having a conversation, face-to-face or via telephone, with your customers is a great way to build trust and to let them know you, and your employees, care about them as individuals.


Listen intensely and record the feedback you get, ideally in your CRM, so you're able to review the feedback you receive and use it to improve the customer experience, empower your employees and create more effective marketing campaigns and messages.


What questions do you ask your customers that generate the most valuable insights?


Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: dialogue, emotional connection to the brand, customer experience, VoC, voice of the customer, face to face communications

5 Questions Leaders Can Answer to Empower and Engage Employees

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Jun, 10, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

employee empowerment, employee engagement









A lot has been written about the high levels of disengaged employees and the reason employees leave their employer.


Do you have an open and on-going dialog with your employees?


You need to if for no other reason than your employees will only treat your customers as well as you, and your managers, treat your employees.


Wondering what to talk to your employees about?


How about sitting down and sharing with them your answers to these five questions:


  1. Which of your life experiences can serve as an inspiration to your employees?

  2. What can you share that makes you vulnerable and relatable?

  3. What mistakes have you made that helped you become a better leader?

  4. What can you share that personally connects you to your company's vision?

  5. What have you learned from your employees that have helped you in your day-to-day activities? 


The more transparent and open you are with employees, the more trust you will earn. 


Having a face-to-face conversation with your employees, one-on-one or in small groups, lets them know you are human and you care about them as people.


The more they know this, the more they'll be engaged and want to do a good job for you, your company and the customers they serve.


As Theodore Roosevelt said, "No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."


Getting to know your employees as individuals will let them know you care and will likely make them more empowered and more engaged.


Force yourself, and encourage your managers, to get to know the folks they're managing.


The number one reason an employee leaves a company is a poor relationship with their manager.


As the economy improves, you want to improve your relationships with your best employees to ensure they stay on your team rather than going to a competitor.

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 

Tags: trust, empower employees, employee engagement, empowered employees, employee empowerment, face to face communications

3 Keys To Success -- Visibility, Credibility and Relationships

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, May, 28, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

3 keys to success for you and your company








Looking at the blog posts I've been writing over the past few years, I'm seeing a trend in the three things every person, and every company, needs to be successful today:

  1. Visibility

  2. Credibility

  3. Relationships

Following are my thoughts on ways for individuals, and companies, to improve each:

  • Visibility
  1. Build brand awareness by sharing information of value.
  2. The more you blog, the more awareness, traffic and leads you will get; your SEO rankings will improve as well.

  3. Use P.R. A lot of people think P.R. is dead in the age of social media. However, there are still plenty of vertical trade publications, and websites, looking for information of value to share with their readers. P.R. is another channel in which you can repurpose content.

  4. Leverage all of your content to educate your customers and your prospects. It's amazing what you can learn to do on your own by searching YouTube. C-level executives are 7-times more likely to look at a video than to download and read a whitepaper.

  5. Stay active on LinkedIn. Update your profile, your company's profile and actively participate in, and contribute to groups. I've found groups to be a tremendous resource when sourcing products and services.

  6. Have a mobile presence -- especially if you're trying to reach millennials. 80% have a smart phone, 85% of Hispanics. Ensure all of your digital communications are mobile optimized.
  • Credibility
  1. Build extreme trust. "Do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it."

  2. Be consistent. While some people say, "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," it's the only way to build trust. Consistency = trust. Inconsistency = confusion and distrust.
  3. Ensure your management team, and employees, are in alignment with regards to vision, mission, values and what makes you "different and better." Lack of alignment results in inconsistent messages to customers and prospects.

  4. Another reason to provide information of value is to build credibility. Providing information of value early in the relationship lets the prospect get to know you. Don't sell, just educate.

  5. Empower employees to deliver a consistently good customer experience. Consistency builds trust. "Wow" customer experiences will create "raving fans" that will help market your product or service.

  6. Put the customer first in everything you do. Help customers win, make their lives easier, and you'll have customers for life.

  • Relationships
  1. Strive to have customers for life. It's like aiming for the moon, even if you don't achieve your goal, you'll positively differentiate yourself from the competition.

  2. Have face-to-face conversations with your customers and prospects to get to know them as individuals. People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Face-to-face conversations help to build long-term relationships.

  3. Help customers make an emotional connection to your brand by letting them get to know the people that comprise your brand. People connect with other people. Empower and encourage your employees to connect with customers and prospects -- in person and via social media.

  4. Listen intensely to your customers and prospects to understand their needs and wants. These consumer insights will lead to new product development, service enhancements, new revenue streams and repeat business.

  5. Referrals and word-of-mouth are still the most powerful, and cost efficient, forms of marketing. Give your customers experiences they want to share with others.

  6. As you enhance your relationships with your customers, you'll find that they want you to be successful. Don't be afraid to let them know how they can help you.

What actions can you take to make you and your company more successful?


Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"


Tags: emotional connection to the brand, customers for life, consumer insights, information of value, alignment, extreme trust, face to face communications

Improve Communications to Improve Performance and Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Feb, 21, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

improve communications to accelerate sales








Companies with highly effective communications and change management are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers who do not communicate or manage change effectively, according to Towers Watson’s 2013-2014 Change and Communication ROI Study.


The study surveyed 651 organizations from a broad range of industries and found the most successful companies actively build a culture to support their employees and drive behaviors aligned with their business strategy.


They ensure everyone in the company, from the management team down, are in alignment with regard to the vision, mission, values and strategic positiong of the company. Employees are empowered and engaged. They know the company story and know what makes their company "different and better."


The study highlights key findings on the relationship between superior financial performance and effective communication and what the most effective organizations do differently:


  • 93% of highly effective organizations say they understand what messages resonate with new employees, while only 48% of less effective organizations say the same.
  • 98% of highly effective organizations say they understand what messages resonate with top-performing employees, while only 42% of less effective organizations say the same.
  • The most effective organizations are 3-times more likely to be focused on the behaviors that drive organization success, instead of being focused on the program cost.


It’s clear that to be a highly effective organization you must understand your employees' mindset, which is critical for communications to be effective, and focus on the behaviors that get desired results.


Have face-to-face conversations with your employees to ensure they understand why they are doing what they are doing and why their job is critical to the company accomplishing its goals.


The more you communicate with your employees, the more you empower and engage them.


Doing so helps your business.


Empowered employees will deliver excellent customer experiences and help your company grow. Whereas, disengaged employees can destroy your brand without even realizing what they've done.

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: empower employees, alignment, vision, mission, values, employee engagement, face to face communications

5 Steps to Improve Employee Engagement

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Jan, 14, 2014 @ 06:01 AM

improve employee engagement









Great e-book from David Grossman of The Grossman Group, entitled, "Five Steps to Thrive."

I had to opportunity to hear David speak a couple of years ago and read his book You Can't Not Communicate2 which aspires to make leaders better communicators -- especially within their own companies.

Times are difficult for business communicators with economic crises, cutbacks, layoffs and reduced budgets being the norm at many companies.

Worker morale and engagement is affected.  According to Towers Watson, employee engagement scores are down 9% for all companies in the U.S. and down 25% for top-performing companies that have implemented cost cutting.

In the event you are not aware, the effects of a disengaged workforce are:

  • More absenteeism
  • More turnover
  • More theft
  • More injuries
  • Lower customer satisfaction
  • Lower productivity and profitability

Here are David's five steps for improving employee engagement:

  1. Get a mirror for you and your leadership team. Employees pay as close attention to what you do as what you say. Your actions speak louder than words. Develop awareness or what others are seeing in you as a leader. I once worked at a small professional services firm that laid off about 10% of the staff in the morning and the president drove his new Mercedes and parked it in front of our building that afternoon. Not good for morale or engagement.
  2. Plan your communication. Regardless of how engaging you are, "just do it," doesn't work. Be transparent. Be honest. Be human. Address the issues at hand before the rumor mill takes over. Six steps to consider: 1) identify the problem; 2) identify the desired outcome; 3) identify your audience; 4) structure your key messages/conversation; 5) consider how you will say your message; 6) follow-up to ensure your message was understood and to answer any outstanding questions.
  3. Listen. Listen some more. Then communicate. Engage employees in a dialog and allow to share what's on their mind or vent. Use face-to-face communications when addressing a topic that requires immediate action, when discussing complex, confidential or sensitive topics and when you want to gather feedback and input. I used to end company meetings by asking people what was on their minds and encouraging them to share with the group or with me one-on-one. Some members of the management team felt like this was asking for complaints; however, I'd rather know what was on people's minds and address it rather than have something festering for a few days or weeks before I was made aware of it.
  4. You are always communicating, so control the message. Your employees will read your behavior even when you do not say anything. By not communicating, you make your employees feel undervalued and underappreciated. You create questions, distrust and churn.
  5. Think about who else can benefit from your communication. At the end of every meeting, or when you make a key decision, ask yourself, who else needs to know this information and how will I get it to them. This ensures you are keeping others apprised of their need-to-know information while also keeping everyone aligned.

Can you improve your communication with employees thereby improving employee engagement?

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: transparency, trust, dialog, be reliable, empower employees, authenticity, honesty, employee engagement, face to face communications

Top Insights From Analytics Blog Posts of 2013

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Dec, 31, 2013 @ 06:12 AM

Top 10 Insights From Analytics blog posts










Following are the leading blog posts during 2013.

Thank you for reading and sharing with others you think would be interested.

Please let me know if I can assist you, or your firm, in any way.

  1. Top 10 U.S. Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for 2013

Have a great 2014!
Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: accelerate sales, net promoter score, connecting emotionally with customers, integrated marketing, face to face communications

Insights from Analytics -- A Better Way

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Dec, 27, 2013 @ 06:12 AM

have a dialog with customers







A recent study of marketing executives by Accenture ( indicated that "insufficient budgets, a shortage of skills and inadequate tools are hindering their ability to improve operational efficiency, increase productivity and respond to change."

To achieve growth objectives 65% of marketers said they must master customer analytics, 64% said offer innovation and 57% said improve customer engagement and marketing operations.

All of these objectives, except perhaps improving marketing operations, can be achieved by having a dialog with consumers to add insight to analytics.

The quantitative data provided by analytics is valuable; however, the insights provided by having a dialog with customers will make analytics invaluable.

The director of Accenture's CRM consulting group and Accenture Analytics claims insights that can be gained from the data will help marketers identify what customers want and predict how they need to act differently to help steer corporate innovation that can drive improved business outcomes.

I wholeheartedly agree; however, after having obtained insights from quantitative and qualitative data for 30+ years, the insights will be much richer and valuable if obtained with analytics and qualitative research rather than relying strictly on quantitative research.

The three business issues marketers most frequently want to address are:

  1. Customer retention and loyalty;
  2. New customer acquisition; and,
  3. Sales to existing customers.

Readers of this blog know all three issues can be achieved by having a dialog with customers, prospects, the sales channel and employees.

Additionally, with this dialog, you create trust and enhance relationships with all of your constituents. Increased trust and enhanced relationships are something analytics by themselves cannot provide.

Accenture asserts that organizations that understand their customers will be best positioned to achieve their growth strategies in the face of increasingly difficult challenges.

I agree and assert the best way to understand your customers is to create a dialog with them.

What do you do to better understand your customers?

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: dialog, consumer insights accelerate sales, connecting emotionally with customers, face to face communications

Face-To-Face Communications Empowers Employees and Accelerates Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Dec, 03, 2013 @ 06:12 AM

face to face communication resized 600







I recently read an article by Cathy-Anne O'Brien in the Communications World Bulletin entitled "Losing Face Time? Recapture That Human Connection."

We all know face-to-face communications are optimal.

E-mail communications lack personality and emotion.

Phone conversations add tone and emotion but you are still not able to see the person's expression to see how they are receiving the message you are attempting to deliver.

"If you want to become a better communicator, you must make a conscious effort to engage other people in person," according to Jo-Ellan Dimitrius in her book Reading People.

In the age of social media, the importance of making an emotional connection is greater than ever.

People like to do business with people they know like and trust.

The best way to build this trust is with an in-person dialog. This way people can see you are sincere in what you are saying and you're able to see their expression while you are delivering your message.

Here are some points to consider when determining when face-to-face communications is the best option:

  1. With whom are you speaking? Do you know the person well? Are they important to your business or career? Do you need to improve your relationship with this person? Whether it's your client, your colleague,boss pr someone you are managing, much more is accomplished in face-to-face communications than e-mail, texting or even by phone.

  2. What are you communicating? According to Kathleen Begley, author of Face-to-Face Communication: Making Connections in a Technology-Driven World, "Face-to-face communications remains the most powerful human interaction. As Wonderful as electronic devices are, they can never fully replace the intimacy and immediacy of people conversing in the same room." This is particularly true if you are delivering sensitive news. You want to be able to see how the recipient of the message received and reacted to your message to ensure you communicated effectively.

  3. When do you need to communicate the message? While you may need to initiate a message after traditional business hours, it's important to have a face-to-face follow-up as a next step in the process to ensure the message was received and interpreted as you intended.

  4. Where is the audience located? Though geographic boundaries may limit the economic feasibility of face-to-face communications, "it's astounding what can be learned from eye contact, facial expression, body movements, space, time distance, appearance -- all non-verbal clues that influence the way the message is interpreted, received or decoded by the receiver," according to Mary Ellen Guffey in Business Communication: Process and Product.

  5. Why are you communicating? Identify what you want to accomplish from the communication. If give-and-take is required or the objective is to create good feelings and teamwork, then face-to-face communications work best.

As Tom Peters has said, "Technology is the great enabler. But now, the human bit is more, not less, important than ever before."

Face time may not only be the most appropriate in many situations, it can also ensure a successful outcome for the project about which you are communicating.

What percent of the time do you communicate face-to-face versus telephone versus e-mail?

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book  "Customer Bonding Programs:  How to Get, and Keep,Customers for Life"

Tags: trust, dialog, connecting emotionally with customers, people do business with those they know like and t, face to face communications