Monday, August 18, 2008

Pete Krainik: Big Idea for CMOs - Speak to 5 Customers a Day

The other day I was speaking with two CMOs around customer insight and segmentation and I started thinking back to my time at M&M/Mars and as CMO at DoubleClick and EVP Marketing at Avaya, and some of the things I did to help stay connected with customers and set the right example for my organization.

Like many of you, we developed detailed customer segments and combined data from different sources in the organization to improve our insight to their behavior and transactions with us. We also implemented new metrics for monitoring our ability to influence them. These activities and processes are critical for success but I kept coming back to one of the most important things I did to help improve customer effectiveness, I set an objective to speak with 5 customers a day.

Regardless of B2B or B2C, there is significant value in talking with customers every day. To stay connected, listen, help, share new ideas, and learn what competition is doing, are all benefits for this priority. So what are some of the challenges of doing this effectively?

1) Do you know enough customers to speak with 5 customers a day? If not then you need to build your personal customer database. I’m not talking about access to your 10,000 or more customer list, but over time your own personal list of customers you have built a relationship with. This takes time but is worth the effort. In the B2B space a good source for these customers is your user groups. Take the time to identify customers and reach out to them to check in, see what your company can do to help their group, share a few new ideas, etc.

2) Personal customer lists and conversations are not statistically valid and may provide me inaccurate information for decision making? It’s not about making significant decisions made on a few conversations, it’s about building relationships for your inside group of net promoters to share ideas and plans when you need customer input, for gaining insights to help you ask the right questions from the larger sample of customers/prospects, etc. It’s for early insights into competitive activities to then react to.

3) I’m in B2C with millions of customers. How will speaking to 5 customers a day really help? How do I approach this? Your approach for speaking with 5 customers a day is not always, get a list and call or email. When I was at M&M/Mars, every time I meet with friends, children of friends, business associates, I asked them about our new Snickers bar, new “Custom color M&M’s”, what candy did they give out at Halloween and why, etc. You would be surprised with the insights you gain from customers of your products/services. In the B2B space I set a personal objective to speak with 5 retail customers and 5 consumers of our product every day.

Also, if your organization sees you prioritizing your time to speak with customers and sharing insights and follow up actions from these conversations, you set the right leadership example of customer centric organizations. After a number of months you will be surprised how big your personal customer database grows and the number of calls you get from customers to thank you, give you new competitive insights, and suggestions for improving your products and services.

In our positions, prioritizing our time is critical for our success. I feel prioritizing time each day to talk with 5 customers is worth the effort. You just need to make it a priority. Are you speaking with 5 customers a day?

1 comment:

hfine said...

Excellent points. I'm not aware of how you prioritize, but I agree in how important it is in so many areas. I just found a new product that I immediately signed up to beta test when another Director sent me this link... what a powerful, yet simple way to confidently prioritize.