Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Customer-Centricity Is Mandatory for 2015

Cutomer Think Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on customerthink.com

For 2015 putting your customer at the center of every strategy and business process will be essential for acquisition, retention and competitive differentiation. No more just talking about it. This coming year, it has to happen.Customer Think

Here are three tips with examples of companies that are getting it right when it comes to excellence in customer-centricity.

You Want Fans, Not Just Customers
TGI Fridays, recently earned a top spot in the Dunnhumby Customer Centricity Index which noted that when it comes to restaurants, “experience matters as much as the food.” TGI Fridays was recognized for its major differentiator, loyalty. TGI Fridays was also honored in the Loyalty360 Awards.

According to Michelle Malish, Senior Director, Customer Relationship Marketing & Loyalty:

“Fridays is intently focused on ... meeting the needs and desires of our most loyal fans. [We use] member data and insights to enable relevant, multichannel communications that build and sustain engaged relationships, support brand activations, drive incremental traffic, and create brand advocacy… We develop, test, analyze and launch new program benefits and concepts that meet our guests’ needs… Depending upon the marketing program, we may use behavioral and personal profile data to tailor messaging content, copy tone, offer strategy, channel, and contact frequency. Our goal is to deliver memorable guest dining experiences, reward members for their loyalty, inspire social sharing, and create brand fans.”

The company’s Give Me More Stripes loyalty program not only offers rewards but also has a social component that states, “In here there’s plenty to talk about,” and gives fans a platform to share their experiences.

Create an Emotional Attachment to Your Brand
When customers feel a part of the brand they will develop an attachment to the experiences associated with it, and want more. According to a Gallup poll:
“[Consumers are] more inclined to spend with businesses they feel good about… consumers will give more money to the businesses they feel emotionally connected to...the vast majority of customer buying decisions are influenced by emotional factors.
Noting an emotional connection to their web experience, Norwegian Cruise Lines was recognized by Key Lime Interactive’s Comprehensive User Experience Report for their “Consistently positive emotional experiences … the site significantly outperformed its competitors’ in terms of time spent on the site [which] increased the brand’s perception as ‘entertaining’, ‘appealing’, ‘fun’, and ‘family-oriented’.”

Use Customer Feedback To Make Improvements
ANZ Bank, a top-four international financial services firm, was the recipient of the International Customer Experience Award for “[showing that] service, satisfaction and ROI can improve by listening to customers.”

According to Mark Hand, ANZ Managing Director Retail Distribution:

“Our real-time customer feedback tool… allows us to track the [customer] journey, and then make improvements to our customer experience programs. By collecting insights and feedback at key steps, we’ve improved our conversion rates, responsiveness and communication processes in every way.”

By using real time feedback to improve the customer experience ANZ achieved these results:
• 15 percent increas e in customer experience scores
• Up to 48 percent survey response rates – more than 10 times the industry standard.

Five Takeaways:

1. When you create compelling and competitively differentiating customer value, retention will increase dramatically.

2. Use customer behavioral data and voice of customer insights to drive development of new engagement programs.

3. Use multiple channels and multiple ways of gathering customer insights. Then, tailor messaging around the customer’s journey at every stage.

4. Cultivate fans that want to have a relationship with your brand.

5. Understand the emotional reasons that customers will identify with your products, services and overall brand.

Being customer-centric in your marketing means that you recognize your customers as more than a transaction. You take the time to get to know why they choose your company and then put in place strategies to nurture trust and deliver meaningful brand experiences designed to engage and retain.

Monday, January 12, 2015

5 Marketing Requirements for Luxury Customer Engagement in 2015

Cutomer Thinks Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on mobilemarketer.com

In 2015, the biggest challenge for luxury marketers will be to gain a much better understanding of what customers expect in terms of significantly improved customer experiences. Luxury Shopper

In the 2015 Luxury Multichannel Engagement Index it was noted that “wealthy consumers have come to expect a lot from luxury retailers both online and in stores ... they must have top people, both online and offline, in place to deliver superior service and experiences."

Here then, are the 5 key requirements for luxury brands in meeting the high expectations of these unique consumers.

1. Use human data to drive deep engagement
Findings from 12,000-plus hours of Voice of Customer Research conducted by us for clients including MassMutual, IBM, Norton AntiVirus, QVC, NBC, Microsoft and Songza indicates that consumers have little patience for searching for relevant offers and communications. This is especially true for the luxury segment.

Therefore keep these points in mind so you can engage your customers as individuals and capture their individual human preferences;

• Your customer is a human, not an account number.
• Each person defines “relevant” differently.
• Nurture and educate customers.
• Develop experiences to delight.
• Add competitively differentiating value to engage customers over time.

In keeping with its efforts to provide competitively differentiating shopping experiences for their customers, Nordstrom Inc. acquired Trunk Club a free online stylist service that builds one-on-one relationships between personal stylists and members to understand their individual lifestyles and styling preferences and uses this information to hand select items which are shipped to customers who keep what they like and return the rest for free.

Erik Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct, said, “We want to evolve with customers ...This complimentary service is an important and successful volume driver for us that our customers appreciate ... What Trunk Club does adds to our service capabilities – we can learn from them about what they call ‘assisted commerce' so we can continue to meet the evolving needs of customers."

2. Achieve new levels of personalization
Empower consumers to achieve high levels of personalization based on their specific behavior and actions. Use this information to provide unique information, product selection and experiences that are created solely for them.

Mallzee, a new interactive and intelligent mobile application, allows users to create “style feeds” and set everything from color to brand preferences.

The app sifts through preferred retailers to find items that match their individual style.
Users can also set personal price drop notifications as well as notifications when retailers update their offerings. The app “learns” a user’s personal style as they swipe through products, so the next time they log on, offerings are presented per their preferences.

3. Be everywhere your customers are
Today, luxury consumers are multimedia/multichannel shoppers. Consumers are in store, on their phone or tablet doing research. They are watching television while chatting on social media and they are using apps to define their shopping and entertainment experiences.

To keep up with the demands of these multi-dimensional, multichannel buyers, marketers must develop options that blend individual media channels into one omni-available experience.
Burberry enables shoppers to explore and buy the latest products not only online, but online within the store via shopping assistants armed with iPads who provide suggestions, show new arrivals and check stock levels.

RF tags on in-store products can trigger video screens based on an item that a customer is carrying. And Burberry's Twitter provides its 3.36 million followers engaging product and shopping information.

4. Empower customers to create their own products and solutions
Allowing consumers to actually create their own product to purchase enables them to literally become a part of the brand.

Enhanced levels of engagement encourage feelings of product ownership and product pride because they allow online buyers to take an active role in the product development process.
NikeiD offers customers the ability to customize their shoes. Buyers can pick the color, pattern, shoelace color, and even have an inspirational message put onto the tongue of the shoe.

Then the new creation can be shared online. According to Brand Channel, NikeiD has seen its online business triple since 2004.

5. Be creative in solving customer needs
What is useful to one group of consumers may not be perceived as useful to another group.

Deep customer knowledge will enable marketers to develop services to solve problems of individual customer segments and therefore drive deeper and sustained loyalty and engagement.

Barneys New York will be launching a niche-based personalized program with stationer Connor that is geared towards its busy, upscale customers.

The Web site and app will enable customers to design cards to be sent digitally via email and social media.
The platform will have event management capabilities for guest lists and tracking of RSVPs.
Barneys chief operating officer Daniella Vitale notes, “This project fills a void and will allow our customer an opportunity to communicate quickly and elegantly.”

Connor co-founder Justin Felber agreed: “This is really a social and sophisticated way to communicate.”

IN SUMMARY, as you prepare for 2015, keep in mind the mandate to create luxury experiences and brand interactions that are deeply and intelligently personalized and based on more than transactional, overlay and inferential data. This will be a critical element for significantly increasing long-term engagement and brand loyalty.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Neiman Marcus CMO Answers 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators

Thanks for all the positive feedback regarding our recently launched 4 Questions for Marketing Innovators. Each blog features one marketing innovator who addresses 4 questions;

  1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
  2. Why is this so important?
  3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
  4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Please send your feedback and ideas for people you would us to interview to ernan@erdm.com

Wanda Gierhart
Wanda Gierhart is the SVP and CMO for Neiman Marcus, the premier omni-channel retailer of luxury and fashion merchandise in the US.
Since its founding in 1907, the company has been known for its commitment to merchandising excellence and customer service.
Wanda joined Neiman Marcus in 2009. Previously, she was President and CEO, Travel Smith Outfitters; EVP Merchandising and Marketing, Design within Reach; and EVP and CMO at Limited Brands.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
There are numerous fronts in which we are innovating but the most important is personalization.

2. Why is this so important?
At the core of our business, Neiman Marcus is about delivering an incredible luxury service experience. We've been doing this in-store for over 100 years and with the increasing use of the internet, mobile devices, social, and other channels, maintaining that high touch service is more important than ever.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
We believe that excellent personalization helps bridge the gap between the store and digital or e-commerce experience and improves service regardless of how the customer shops with us. While we've all heard success stories in personalization online, and we have many of our own, there is plenty of room for improvement.
Just like a great sales associate knows the tastes, preferences, and important details about a customer's life and uses that to deliver world class service, exceptional personalization online though a mix of innovation, people, and technology is working toward doing the same.
Bill Borelle
Some examples of our innovation include the introduction of Snap.Find.Shop. and MyNM.
MyNM is a new section on NeimanMarcus.com that is about all things personalized and trending.
Right now customers can find product recommendations, items that are new since they've last visited the site, top trending items in their local area, most popular products from their favorite vendors, events in their local store, and other popular content. Keep an eye out over the next several months for additional features making the experience even more personalized.
Just like a customer can bring in a photo or magazine and show something they saw to a sales associate and say "I want something like this" we wanted a way for customers to do this at the moment of inspiration, wherever they were.
As a result, we are the first luxury retailer to offer our customers a visual search technology solution that allows them to use their smart phone to photograph any shoe or handbag they see, literally anywhere, and find a similar item for immediate purchase. Snap.Find.Shop. is a feature on Neiman Marcus’ Shopping App, available for download here.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
As our personalized e-commerce service moves closer and closer to an in-store experience, we develop a deeper relationship and further trust with our clients. Relationships and trust result in customer loyalty. And loyalty means business.
It's a cycle, more loyalty means more business, more business means more innovation to better service our customer.

What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Wanda's favorite out of office activities include watching her daughter dance and supporting the arts through her involvement with organizations like TACA.