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Posts Tagged ‘customer collective’

Don’t run to imagine your next product or service, maybe it already exists. And maybe the next big picture is about “experience”, more than delivering…While brands always search to surprise customers, dealing with trend and fashion, there’s probably much more important elsewhere…Not really elsewhere but in another register…sensation, feelings…experience. And if you start to think about being more “sensorial” in your approach?

In a famous outpost called “the experience economy” in Harvard Business Review, some guys (Pines/Gilmore) compared business as a “stage” and work scene, a theatre. Business like a movie? The only difference is that everybody is an actor, sometimes consumer, sometimes not, but anyway, trying to get some sense with brands. Sense means “a reason to buy” or a “willingness to be caught”. Beyond innovation, brands must reinvent the way they do business, throwing away the natives and early concepts of “mix marketing”, as mainstream tools, where consumers are not trapped anymore. In fact, it’s really easy to “create, brand, promote and deliver” a product and service, with teams, money and resources…(tip: it should, I must admit sometimes you run nut with several offers and customer services but…). But revealing a sheer experience, the one who everybody is gonna be fool of and spreading the buzz all over the world, say that we talk of more scarcity, isn’it?

That’s what now brands spend their times, caring about anything is around service and product to wrap the whole offer in an unforgettable shot. And yes, probably social web gear up the movement as it facilitates the “opinion” circulation all over online tribunes…And we see that all these opinions take part of the “whole experience” of a brand delivering. See how good or bad advises are posted each day, just only on foursquare for example, on places you have to visit or…avoid.

Zappos’ delivering happiness concept seems to be central and in DNA of this company. They don’t just “deliver”, they make you “feel”, that something happens…I know it can be a cloud vision, but it adds a kind of huge “goodwill” and friendness to the brand. And probably rise the loyalty and the virality of the shopper…(and finally can we still and only say “shopper” to these “skills” or company object?). Because the difficulty stands on “defining the role that the brand plays and how it takes place in a global value chain and needs awareness”: we see that it can be resumed only to deliver a service or a good. It’s about delivering “memorable and engaging experiences”, and I would say “sustainable” to customers. And saying these simple few words is a matter of complete transformation in companies. If company wishes to do so, everybody is responsible to achieve such a thing: from calls, accouting, to supply, sales and IT. It becomes the main “strategic intent” of companies, through they are going to play their marketing leverages, serving the value purpose. Customers in fact are not outside anymore…they are the blood and the guts of every employee, whose can feel in each of their actions, the “why” and the reason-to-work as a daily behavior.

Experiencing such situations is governed by the sheer pleasure: surprise, care, use and pride. In fact, it’s not a job, it’s a cause! Any company should drive his business according to the only fact, they serve a “cause” (yes even if there’s a reward and we don’t talk about not for profit). So the “design of experience” is central and finds a footprint in everything in relation with the product or the service: packaging, baselines, design, guide, helpdesk, accessories, delivering, after sales, loyalty care, surveys…In fact, any product or service comes with an experience and it’s the role of marketing to improve it and develop the “sensory experience”, to rise value, yes for company but also to hold a valuable experience for customer. The one they won’t forget and spread the new everywhere. The one that really builds a strong loyalty, envy and customization.

Considering this, any company or brand should now build a whole “customer experience strategy” to enhance loyalty and shift to value. And this means involve every function or person inside the company. Company that would build no products, no service but “experience” and customers…If we stare at memorable brands (Apple, Dell, Zappos, Amazon,…), we can surely say that they built a strong community around them, who spread the word and takes place as a whole experience marketplace. We probably assist to a change in CRM concepts as Brian Solis said, like sCRM, enhancing the experience effect into the global offer. CRM to “CEM” (Customer Experience Management), that can create a new angle to see customers, serve them and make them central and ambassador of the brand. Being “central” means that customers are in the same office than you, they take coffee or break with you, go to lunch, and work on the same topics.

You see now? Design for customers by customers, one experiencing what he wants to buy. What social web did, covering posts, opinions and facts written by customers themselves, targeting brands, is now a real shift for companies. Preparing, designing and customer mindsetting is part of the next “profiling” to shape a better “experience”, to deliver and raise customer loyalty. This experience value could be “the willingness to pay, for ‘feelings’, using a product or a service”: which difference would you be ready to pay to feel a memorable experience? If we can mesure and give a value to “experience”, then companies can build a P&L and focus resources to transform their whole relation strategy. I think it will really and definitely make a difference, a kind of skip out of the box, an step forward innovation for leading mindset and customers fan. Let’s imagine about the next pushing button of Facebook’s badges…”I experienced”.

 

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Following my last adventures about sales (here), I’ve never grew up thinking “tomorrow, I’ll be a salesman”; not at all. Nor I’ve never lived in an environment with some (no parents on sales business, no brothers/sisters), some friends joined this career later, but no really influences had prepared me to be, in some ways, ‘in the track’ to. But I did. Several days after my previous education, it came, day after day, not that I had no guide – in fact I met some important and awesome people in these skills -, but as if I always prepared to, a kind of doom, no curse at all, just destiny.

In fact, sales jobs are specialist ones, against all beliefs effect on our lives. That’s probably one of the main reasons, anyone can’t be a salesman…Why?

First, when you have a family, you’re always out, travelling by train, car, plane, collecting nowhere destinations and empty hotels; lonely dinners, lonely nights, early wake up, in a certain way, similar to priest loneliness and hopes…You begin to pray for tomorrow’s sales, and have nightmares of white paper and failed sales

Second, and added to loneliness, nobody believes in your intelligence, in the fact that you’re programed to sell (anything you want!), and one suppose, you’re just good enough to, but not really more. A modern warrior, infantry, keeping the lines, always at war. You must find another reason to believe it’s a noble job (fortunately, real salesman knows with experience how to cope with it and find lots of pleasure and happiness in their daily life!). It’s sometimes hard to be loved to, by your invading mind, big mouth, and teeth too white (!).

Third, you have to be patient, while you’re obliged to listen all customers problems, hoping at the end of the tunnel, one of them will order you, for your talent and understandings. It’s not obvious everyone can spend times to try to understand, thoughts and miseries of people.  But closer climate becomes a trust situation, more sales you will be able to do. Look at what’s up on social networks -even if there’s nothing to buy/sell, what I often ask to me…-; no trust, no exchange, no chat, no answer. No contact, no friends. That is. A kind of confident, before being advisor, doctor…and sometimes best friend.

Look at the final cut: that famous art, selling. It’s a matter of trust. And  not anybody can say, he’s trusty for sure. Trust is a reward, you can’t buy it, I think. So, whatever your intentions, you have to work for it, to get the tools and be the special confident. Be the one who knows all about his customers, when they are, but before too; analyzing personality, to structure, adapt your talk, prepare to argue hard, but to put yourself at the customer’s place; we’re all users of anything, and as famous quote “don’t do others what you don’t want you others do”. It’s a deadly final art in fact, lots of people depends on your skills, in companies.

Now, I made my mind, managed sales teams, lead to business development – the other style of selling with BtoB relationship – but I know what “selling” means, and all the background behind. Believe me it’s a awesome job for who knows discovering tricks&tips and decide to invest for a while. But one thing I’m sure now, is that job is not for everybody. It’s part of the dream to become famous, rich and respected, but prepare you to the hardline before, with simplicity, care and wide opened mind. It’s core of the job, missing it can throw you away and leave you a bitter taste in your career…

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