Tag Archives: GE

customer.service

Getting Better Customer Service

How can your favorite businesses improve your customer experience and offer better types of service? Business leaders from around the world will gather in Phoenix next week to learn how to gain an advantage and win your loyalty. The 24th annual Compete through Service Symposium will feature speakers from Cisco, Disney Institute, FedEx Services, HP, IBM, Vanguard and other household names.

Some of the topics being covered this year: How services can help differentiate your business, lessons in innovation, how to use smart analytics, and how to create “wow” through the smallest things to make a difference for your customers.

This event is hosted by the prestigious Center for Services Leadership at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. The center was created in response to the unique challenges faced by companies as services have become a driving force in economies around the world, with less growth happening in products and manufacturing. The center’s member firms include Boeing, FedEx, GE, IBM, Mayo Clinic, Michelin, PetSmart, State Farm Insurance Company and other household names. The center also offers online courses, a list of which can be found at http://wpcarey.asu.edu/research/services-leadership/online-courses.

WHEN: Wednesday to Friday, Nov. 6-8, Full schedule available at http://wpcarey.asu.edu/symposium

WHERE: Marriott Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 50 E. Adams St., Phoenix, AZ 85004

Kristin Bloomquist is executive vice president and general manager of the Phoenix office of independent marketing and communications agency Cramer-Krasselt.

Leveraging visual storytelling tools can boost business

According to the old adage, a picture is worth 1,000 words. But what about a six-second video? Or an impeccably curated pinboard?

A host of new photo and video-sharing platforms—and the evolving universe of digital devices that enable them—are opening up new opportunities for marketers to engage consumers. But like many forms of “new media” before them, apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine (Twitter’s six-second video app) demand that brands embrace new forms of communicating.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are now pillars of every brand’s social footprint, but it wasn’t so long ago that likes, shares, user-generated video and 140-character status updates were new to the brand lexicon. Now more than ever, the challenge for brands is to become fluent in the language of visual storytelling—from infographics to photography to short, simple videos.

Since its launch in January, Vine has attracted marketers such as GE, Target, Oreo and Marvel Entertainment (with the world’s first movie “teaser”), who are anxious to gain access to the app’s steadily growing base of 13 million users who share 12 million videos a day.

Not to be outdone, Facebook launched video capabilities on Instagram in June. Users can create and edit 15-second video clips, personalize them with the filters the app is famous for and then post to Instagram and Facebook. Putting this kind of functionality in the hands of Instagram’s 130 million users will only ignite interest in this kind of short-form video. But creating compelling content within this kind of time constraint can be challenging, to say the least.

So how do marketers make the most of these tools?

First, Be an Observer: Look (and listen) before you leap. How are other businesses in your category using the space? Are users already posting about your brand? What are the platform’s unique traits and tools? Vine and Instagram video in particular are still in their infancy. First movers may have the advantage, but if their approaches aren’t right for the brand or venue (see next point), they’ll do more harm than good. So first do your research.

Make It Contextual: These platforms demand a regular stream of engaging content—but make sure your approach is a strategic fit and appropriate for both your brand and the venue(s). Our work for Johnsonville offers a prime example, where we leverage each platform based on what it does best, all working in concert and with a common brand strategy – from the “Share Your #Bratshot” promotion on Instagram to daily Bratfirmations on Pinterest offering grilling quotes, wisdom and humor.

Make It Useful: Don’t just show up to the party – offer guests something of interest or value. Remember: these platforms attract a sought-after, tech-savvy audience that often shun more “traditional,” disruptive forms of marketing. Time spent curating an inspiration board on Pinterest, for instance, is “me” time—not “please bombard me with your brand message” time. Lowe’s strikes the right balance with its helpful how-to vignettes on Vine.

As revolutionary as they seem, these tools are just the tip of the iceberg. In this attention- starved, mobile-first world, marketers will have to become master visual storytellers and more, as new tools and technologies continually redefine how brands connect and communicate with consumers.

 

Kristin Bloomquist is executive vice president and general manager of the Phoenix office of independent marketing and communications agency Cramer-Krasselt.

Chandler Innovation Center

5 Mistakes that Quash Corporate Innovation

The biggest breakthroughs in the history of business – and the history of the world – are never  the result of conventional thinking, says Maria Ferrante-Schepis, a veteran in the insurance and financial services industry who now consults Fortune 100 companies such as GE with innovation agent Maddock Douglas, Inc.

“To echo Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt back in 1960, ‘In every case, the reason growth (in business) is threatened, slowed or stopped is not because the market is saturated. It is because there has been a failure of management.’ Many of the world’s biggest companies are simply riding on inertia,” says Ferrante-Schepis, author of “Flirting with the Uninterested,” (www.flirtingwiththeuninterested.com), coauthored by G. Michael Maddock, which explores innovation opportunity through the lens of the insurance industry

“There’s a great saying in the South: ‘You can’t read the label when you are sitting inside the jar,’ ” says Maddock, CEO of Maddock Douglas. “It’s hard to see a need and invent a way to fill that need when you’ve been inside one business or industry for a long time.”

Recognizing those needs requires stepping outside of the jar and viewing things from the outside, adds Ferrante-Schepis.

“You can’t innovate from inside the jar, and if you aren’t innovating, you’re just waiting for the expiration date on your business,” she says.

Ferrante-Schepis and Maddock bust five myths relating to corporate innovation:

• The preference of four out of five dentists doesn’t necessarily matter: Many years ago, when the Maddock Douglas firm consulted with P&G to develop new oral health care products, Crest was recommended by most dentists. However, it turns out the market had shifted; consumers became more interested in bright smiles than healthy gums. Many industries make the mistake of getting their insights from their own experts rather than asking the consumer.

• Giving all your love to those who already love you: In the interest of preserving customer morale, too many companies focus on those who already love their service. But that’s not what companies need to work on; they need to focus on what’s not working in order to improve. The haters very often offer well-targeted insights that can tremendously improve products, customer service, and/or operations.

• “We tried that idea. It didn’t work.” What idea, exactly? People who are in the jar interpret new ideas based on how they last saw them. You may think you’ve tried or tested an idea, but if you applied it in a conventional way, the way it’s always been used, you haven’t really tried it. Consider the term “auction” — in-the-jar thinkers envision Sotheby’s and not the more practical and innovative eBay.

• Trying to impress with insider jargon: Communication is a huge part of innovation. Policies in the health-insurance industry, for example, include language that may make sense to insiders, but say nothing to the average middle-class customer, which is prohibitive. Be very careful about the language you use. In this case, “voice of the customer” should be taken literally. Customers recognize, respond to and build from their own words more than from yours.

• Staying at your desk and in the office: Doubling down on what already has not worked for you is not innovative. Get outside your office and act like an anthropologist. Spend time with your customers and bring an expert interpreter and a couple members of your team. Compare notes; you’ll be shocked at how differently you all see the situation.

customer.service

ASU Center becomes a resource to teach service

Customer service was once viewed as the cost of doing business.

“Across almost every industry, leaders are focusing on service as a way to compete in today’s competitive marketplace,” says Mary Jo Bitner, academic director for the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

But times have changed. Companies that are in search of new revenue streams are finding that in addition to providing great customer service, offering value-added services to their product lines are helping their bottom lines. And the help them make the most of the opportunities, many are seeking help from the ASU Center, which focuses on research and executive education in managing and marketing services.

“Customer demand and the competitive challenges posed by the commoditization of many products has pushed many goods-based companies to take another look at services as a source of revenue and profit,” says Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Services Leadership, who has spent the past 20 years tracking the growing importance of services as a product. “Many are following market leaders to become goods-and-services companies.”

For example, Boeing has broadened its offerings by adding the lucrative market of services to its aircraft manufacturing. The Hewlett Packard and Compaq merger created a new company whose major product is services. IBM’s impressive financials over the past decade — in shining contrast to its competitors — were largely the result of its service businesses.

“In 2001, we were launching our first fee-based service business,” says Steve Church, president of Avnet Integrated and chief corporate business development and planning officer. “We wanted to offer more services and solutions. We knew a lot, but there was a lot we didn’t know.”

Church says Avnet’s membership in the center — which concentrates on expanding service innovation by combining the latest scientific insights from the academic world with the best of business strategy in the real world — allowed the company to “build a culture of service excellence that focuses on the customer and gives each a great customer experience.”

The Center, which was created in 1985, remains the only one of its kind in the United States, devoted to research and education in the services field.  Its research findings form the foundation of the Center’s executive education program, attended by managers and executives of leading firms.  Member companies include AT&T, Charles Schwab and Co., Ford Motor Company, IBM, Mayo Clinic and others, who sponsor research, fund scholarships, host MBA student teams and participate in executive education.

Many member companies sponsor research that is published in academic journals, and shared at the Center’s executive education forums. Bitner, for example, has been studying the effects of self-service technologies (SST), working with Ford and a major pharmaceutical benefits management company.

“The Center is really a tremendous resource for any company that has a strategy to to improve customer serve or add services to augment its products,” Church says. “We learned that by getting our employees engaged in customer service, we built customer loyalty, it helped us compete, and it enhanced our financial performance.”