Monday, October 29, 2018

Everything Is Marketing - Especially During the World Series!

No matter what team you rooted for in this year's World Series which resulted in the Boston Red Sox defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers (by winning four games except for the 18-inning record-setting contest), you have to give credit to a quick-serve restaurant, Boston Market.

But before we share the applause for Boston Market, let's take a step back to June of this year when IHOP, famous for pancakes, changed its name to IHOB in a surprise move. Many on social media complimented IHOP for the surprise, which directed attention away from pancakes and breakfasts to burgers and lunch and dinner meals. Admit it, who thinks of IHOP for lunch and dinner? Yes, that WAS a clever marketing move.

Another food brand that changed its name this year is Dunkin' Donuts, which, in September, dropped the word donuts in an effort to be known as Dunkin'. The impetus behind this move was also to direct attention away from a specific food, in this case, doughnuts, so that the brand could evolve and represent a variety of beverages and other items.

Now, we return to Boston Market. As I was driving around Los Angeles this past weekend during the World Series, I drove by a Boston Market. I had to look twice, because there was a banner covering the word BOSTON, so that the sign read: LOS ANGELES MARKET. Talk about changing a brand's name to support the local team!

According to the Los Angeles Times: “The restaurant that proudly bears its name in red, white and black letters is going BLUE for the World Series — at least in Los Angeles. Ten Boston Market restaurants have hung banners with the words “Los Angeles” covering “Boston” in the restaurant’s name, an idea spurred by local managers as excitement over the World Series (grew)," explained Tim Hartmann, the restaurant’s vice president of marketing.

This was an incredibly clever brand name change, even if only temporary, and only in Los Angeles. It makes me wonder if the next brand that changes its name will be able to rival the creativity of Boston, aka Los Angeles, Market. If Boston had been in your brand's name, would you have changed it during the World Series? What's your call?

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Check out my posts about the other name changes earlier this year:

At IHOB, It’s Now All About the Burgers!

Less Means More with This Brand's New Name

Friday, October 12, 2018

Fall Reading Recap: Leadership, Branding, and Voice of the Customer Marketing

Have you assembled a stack of “must-read books” left over from your summer vacation? With summer over and the winter holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to catch up on some fall reading. I highly recommend that you add these five leadership, branding, and customer marketing books to your reading list.

Author and business analyst Charlene Li defines an engaged leader “as someone who uses digital, mobile, and social tools strategically to achieve established goals as they relate to leading people and managing organizations…The openness required is unprecedented, and the trust and transparency are mind numbing for many top leaders who are accustomed to maintaining control and proceeding in an orderly and predictable fashion.”

According to Li, there are three actions necessary for leaders to become engaged: listen, share, and engage. “Listening is the way leaders determine what individuals need from them to enhance the relationship and deepen the connection. Sharing is how leaders use stories and other tools to develop mutual understanding and share people’s mind-sets and thus the actions they take. And engagement is a two-way dialogue that motivates and mobilizes followers to act in concert toward a common purpose.”

Consider using Li’s digital leadership development worksheet from the book:

This book written by Ernan Roman has been called “the definitive playbook for the new customer-driven era.” Roman defines Voice of the Customer (VOC) as the term “to describe the process of capturing critical details regarding the desires, needs and requirements of a given prospect, customer, or target group…VOC yields an in-depth understanding of customer and prospect preferences and actions…and is what allows us to give customers what they really want most from us – and avoid the annoyance and alienation that results from offering them what they don’t want.”

Customers want to know that their voices are heard. Once this happens, according to Roman, they look forward to engaging with and doing business with brands. Here are the five steps that all brands should follow:

[1] Conduct and apply VOC relationship research – achieve greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer – the most straightforward way to calculate CLV is to take the revenue you earn from a customer and subtract the money spent on acquiring and serving him/her.

[2] Create VOC-driven opt-in relationship strategies – focus on the relationship rather than the first contact or first sale. [To see some innovative business-to-customer opt-in strategies, check out what Disney Vacations does:]

[3] Create a VOC-driven multichannel mix – your brand’s messaging might include search engine optimization/online advertising, email, print catalog, billboard advertising, in-store advertising, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing.

[4] Create a VOC-driven social media presence – create a presence on the social platforms where your audiences assemble and engage with them with compelling content (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram/IGTV, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.).

[5] Invest in an excellent customer service experience – reduce complaints and increase number of repeat customers.

Perhaps, the best way to define voice of the customer marketing in a nutshell: when a business is proactive in its interactions or touch points with a customer.

In the words of author Brian Smith, the founder of casual comfort brand UGG, “Building a brand, like any natural process, is a gradual, organic, and wildly unpredictable experience.” While many of us have ideas that we think may have the potential to become a national or international brand, the reality is, we don’t. But Smith did, and it’s hard to walk on any street without seeing someone walking in an UGG sheepskin boot. The book shares a myriad of entrepreneurial tips with Smith’s story of bringing UGG footwear to life.

Leadership author, coach, and trainer Erika Andersen challenges readers to become significantly better learners by the end of the book. Based on her research in writing the book, most people don’t like to look dumb if they ask questions or demonstrate a lack of knowledge or understanding. However, “it’s okay to be bad at those parts of your job that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to learn.”

Here was a great example of being bad: “The first time you’re running a meeting and someone who works for you says something you don’t understand, and you take a deep breath and say, “I’m not sure I’m following you – could you explain that in a different way?” it’s going to feel awkward and even a little scary. But then the person will stop and say, “Oh sure…” You’ll listen and understand; the other person will feel important and helpful; and the trust and openness on your team will tick up a few micro-points. In other words, nothing bad will happen…This will make it much easier to “be bad” the next time. Word will get around that you’re really interested in your folks and good to work for, better conversations will happen, and your employees will start to ask curious questions of their own in meetings.”

Be sure to check out the self-talk about “being bad” and the supportive (and more accurate) alternatives on page 172 of the book.

Author Cassandra Frangos has been called “the executive whisperer” by Diversity Women magazine, and her consulting expertise focuses on succession planning, leadership development, and team effectiveness. Her book answers the question, “How can I reach the C-Suite?” by providing an array of insights about the four core paths to the C-Suite:

[1] The tenured executive: internal appointment
Questions to ask: Am I a fit with the culture? Am I passionate about the purpose? Can I change with the organization? Can I create my own opportunities?

[2] The free agent: externally recruited
Questions to ask: Am I a good fit in my present company? What will I do if I am passed over? How fast is my career clock ticking? What is my strategic career plan? Where is my next growth opportunity?

[3] The leapfrog leader: internal or external candidate
Questions to ask: Can I fill a gap in the leadership pipeline? Is the culture stuck, and can I help get it unstuck? Is my functional area of expertise in flux? Are the hiring managers open-minded? Is organizational change imminent?

[4] The founder: new venture creator
Questions to ask: Am I having the impact I want? What problem will I solve? Who are my co-founders? Am I staked financially? Do I have the personal support I need? What will I do if I fail?

In addition to these traditional pathways, there are also the nontraditional pathways: going from consulting to the C-Suite, going to the C-Suite following a merger or acquisition, going from a spinoff to the C-Suite, going from a Board position to CEO, going from COO/CFO/CMO/CSO to CEO, and going from founder/CEO to C-Suite of a different organization.

Bottom line, no two pathways to the C-Suite are the same – they are as different as the leaders who travel them.

What business book is a must-read on your end-of-the-year list? Please chime in and share.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey’s library.

Follow these accounts on Twitter:
Charlene Li: @charleneli with hashtag #EngagedLeader
Ernan Roman: @ernanroman
Brian Smith: @briansmithugg
Erika Andersen: @erikaandersen
Cassandra Frangos: @c_frangos
Wharton Digital Press: @WhartonDigital

Monday, October 1, 2018

Want Some Customer Satisfaction Secrets?

I’ve met many people on social media, but one that stands out in the customer satisfaction arena is Bill Quiseng. On TweetChats, in my Twitter stream, on GooglePlus, on Facebook, and many more social networks, Bill always shares valuable tips and information. Recently, we discussed customer service and customer experience, and highlights follow below a brief introduction. Bill Quiseng is an
award-winning customer service speaker, blogger and writer. He has been recognized for his customer service and customer experience insight on social media with many accolades, most recently as one of the Top Customer Service Influencers of 2018 by Fit Small Business. Subscribe to Bill's Blog at and join him on Facebook at and Twitter at

QUESTION: How do you explain the difference between customer service and customer experience?
BILL QUISENG: Customer service is all about what you do for a customer. But, customer experience is all about how the customer feels about your company. It’s not only how the customer feels about your service, but also how he feels about every aspect of your company, from the ease of navigation on your website to the simplicity of understanding the final invoice, and literally every sensory touchpoint in between. In today’s very competitive marketplace, great customer service merely gets you into the game. Great customer experience makes you a winner.

QUESTION: Your pinned Tweet on Twitter says, “To earn new customers, don’t try to get inside their heads. Get inside their hearts. Create an emotional connection.” Can you please elaborate?
BILL QUISENG: Companies brainstorm elaborate journey maps to ensure that, at every touchpoint, the customer experience is consistent and effortless. They believe that, with expectations met, the customer will be satisfied. But satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers. If the product and services are similar between several competitors, customers will be more loyal to the company that makes them feel important and special. 

Businesses need to understand and educate their employees that there is a difference between taking care of a customer and caring for the customer. For example, taking care of a hotel guest is checking him quickly, giving him a key to a room that is clean and problem-free. Caring for a guest is recognizing that the guest was obviously under the weather and sending up a cup of chicken soup with a note, “Hope you are feeling better soon.” Taking care of a customer is a transaction. Genuinely caring for a customer generates an emotional connection. And emotionally engaged customers are much more loyal than merely satisfied ones.

QUESTION: What customer experience metric should every brand use, and why?
BILL QUISENG: It seems there is an infinite number of ways to measure customer experience, whether it is NPS, CSAT, FCR, AHT, etc. But if your business is truly customer-centric, then you should come to terms with the fact that customers don’t care about your metrics. They only care about this metric: 1 to 1. No one customer cares about any of the other customers. That one customer only cares about himself. And when that customer interacts with your one employee in front of him, he wants to know what that one employee can do for him at that moment. So, there are only two survey questions needed to measure customer experience:

[1] “Did you feel that the Associate cared about you?” Yes or no. 

[2] Why?

But how will you know if you are being successful? Just read the comments to survey question #2 and you’ll know. Then work hard to eliminate the complaints. And when you earn a lot more yes’s than no’s, you will have vastly improved the only metric that matters to any business: PROFIT.

QUESTION: There is a mindset that a focus on employees, rather than on customers, is the best way to improve service. Can you please elaborate?
BILL QUISENG: If you want to win the hearts of your customers, you must first win the hearts of your employees. And as one of their needs, your employees are looking for opportunities for continuous learning and development. Spend as much money training your people to keep a customer as you spend on marketing campaigns to find a new customer. 

If you want to improve the customer experience and drive employee engagement, you should be actively listening to your employees. Every day, every manager should be asking two questions of at least one employee.

[1] “What are you hearing?” 

Listen to what your employees tell you that customers are complaining about and then do whatever it takes to fix it. And remember, if you want your employees to deliver outstanding customer service, you need to make it a habit to recognize them when they do. 

[2] “Is there anything I can do for you?” 

Anything your employees mention is a hindrance or would be a help to doing their job better. Own the feedback and act on any promise made to them. With the intent to deliver exceptional customer service, remember this mantra: Happy Employees = Happy Customers.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite customer service story?
BILL QUISENG: My favorite story is about Joshie the Giraffe. A young boy lost Joshie, his plush giraffe (stuffed animal toy) while vacationing at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island in Florida. When the Loss Prevention team found the stuffed animal, the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton created a scrapbook of Joshie’s extended vacation sunbathing in a chaise lounge, getting a massage in the spa, driving a golf cart, and even working a shift in the Loss Prevention department. That was back in 2012, and now as a legendary customer service story, it resonates long after the actual event has passed.

To read the full story about Joshie the Giraffe by the stuffed animal’s owner’s father, @TheChrisHurn on Twitter, here
s the link:

And to read Part Two – an even better story – by Chris Hurn, here
s the link:

Image Credit: Bill Quiseng.