Extreme customer experience: there is no alternative.

Extreme customer experience: there is no alternative.

Whether you are an industrial player, a service provider, in the commodity business, a high-tech start-up or an independent contractor, there is only one sustainable approach towards growth. With the quick product development of today & the stream of quick and easy copycats that work at a much lower cost than you are, the only way to retain customers is by offering something that is far more difficult to copy: an awesome experience. Yes, sorry to break the news, but your customers are not buying your product or service because it’s the best in the world, they buy a solution, an experience that brings the most value to them. And value = f(product characteristics, price, easy of doing business, easy of use, fun, how they can talk about it to their peers, the price,…).

But what about Value Proposition?

Off course, there is the model of Customer Value Propositions, where the insight behind is that a company should choose where it want’s to beat the competition. The goal is that you are ‘on par’ on all the 3 axes, but divert all your focus on one specific access to win the game there.

Value Propositions
Source: The Discipline of Market Leaders, Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema.

With this in mind, you might be inclined to think that focussing on Customer experience is only one option. However, I want to advocate that Customer Experience is not the same as customer Intimacy and that you relentlessly should focus on customer intimacy regardless of your positioning. So yes, you still can be a Product leader, but you will never have the best product when you are not going for extreme customer experience. The reason is simple: the experience is your product seen through the eyes of the customer. Nobody will buy an iPhone if you need to assemble it yourself, put 20 hours in configuring it,… Same goes for operational excellence. Even if you focus on low cost, the way to bring it to customers needs to be extremely good. Of course, the customers experience will be different, but needs to be designed with the Value Proposition in mind. Take a look at the experience Colruyt is given: It’s completely different than that of Delhaize, be they are relentless a creating a unified experience (no locks on the shopping carts, industrial lighting, the walk-in-freezer,…).

So bottom line: don’t let your positioning be an excuse to not go for Extreme customer Experience.

I’m passionate about extreme customer experience. Want to talk about it over a coffee or need some inspiration: let’s talk! A sneak preview of what I can bring to the table.

Innovation is not a business unit, it is a mindset.

A lot of companies set up a dedicated innovation department, expect the world of it and then… get disappointed by the results.

The reason is simple: typically these departments are organised to work on business changing and money generation projects which tend to be… well large.

To make it very clear: they should be there and they should be filled with some of your best people, but innovation is more than only this. It is also about your team member having an idea on how to get your insights faster to the sales team, on how to save 1000 Euro by doing something different, on just testing out that new product tweak with a real customer (yes, he might be surprised, but he will not kill you for it), on trying to use a new tool to get organised better, on sharing that one thing you learned from that book/blog you read.

Innovation is about going out their, alone or with your team and challenge the status-quo of your day to day operations.

Follow up on your customers.

Getting a new customer can come at a high cost. Making a customer active, loyal, a brand ambassador,… is what really counts. This can be so simple, but so many companies do not even try to communicate with their new customers, let alone start a dialog with them.

Off course, you should target your new customers when it is relevant for them (See more on event driven marketing), but dropbox shows how simple this can be (no rocket science here): When you register for a new dropbox account and you do not use it for some weeks, you get a simple mail reminding you of the use for this simple but great piece of cloud software.

You probably cannot make it more simple, but it works. Great!

Ask yourself this question: what do you want to tell to your inactive customers, to your clients that have an issue, that are moving away from your service?

Digital marketing: stop trying.

The times when you should ‘do some tests’ with digital marketing are over. I would not be surprised if a lot of old-school marketing managers do think: ‘yeah-yeah, let those young people believe that it will work, we know better’.
But now, also McKinsey is saying so: in an easy readable article, they guide you through four ways to get more value from digital marketing.

“To talk directly to the ones in charge: Companies that make the deep strategic, organizational, and operational shifts required to become effective digital marketers can become more agile, more productive, and accelerate revenue growth.”


Click here to read the full article (login required).

Loyalty and crowd-driven lock-in…

… or what marketeers can learn from John Denver’s “Leaving on a jet-plane”.

I will be kinda unorthodox, but it is for the sake of the non-believers in new communication.

You know the cost of acquiring a new customer is much higher than keeping an existing customer most of the time.


You got to step one.

Now, the question is, how do you keep customers?

The first way to go is to make sure your product or service is worth wile, you threat your customer with respect,… you make sure you have one happy customer.

The more controversial path also implies making sure that it becomes more difficult for a customer to leave you. In the old days, monopolist really mastered this game. But customers becoming more and more reluctant to this approach (as they should be!). Most people now do not feel anything when they switch suppliers and leave you alone in the dark. These same people however still feel sad when leaving people, their peers, their network,… behind.
So lock-in these days becomes a social lock-in where people who want to stop using your product or service also have to leave their social network around your brand behind… Take away the person’s loved away and they feel like leaving on a jet-plane and they will search for confirmation.

Loyalty becomes a social game.

Step 2 achieved!

Thank you John!

Introducing: The 4C Matrix

You also read the trend reports, get information from your agency or hear your son talk about all those new things. Socialweb, media, youth marketing, blablablah,…

The question is, what do you do with it? When I was working on a 20 slide presentation on Youth marketing, I realised that asking the question has already been done. It is the answer that is important. Realising that their is not 1 answer or solution, you might just leave it at that. However, with the advantages of the social web in mind (Not only talk the talk you know), I figured out that giving a possible solution and leave it open for discussion (yes, that is you!) is better than just making another presentation full of questions.

So I give you: The 4C Matrix that can help you in bringing together classical market segmentation theories and creative communication.

Dive right into the presentation right here!


Let me know how you see things!

Event Driven Marketing: Still hot?

Event Driven Marketing, the term exist already for some years now. So you might argue if it is still hot in modern Marketing. However, a quick look on the number of direct mails and other marcom you receive indicates that a lot of companies urgently need to have a look at what Event Driven Marketing is all about.

Off course, pure by coincidence, I just finished a white paper I was working on more than a year ago. It gives you a fast-paced glimps at what Event Driven Marketing is all about. If you have heard the phrase “We should start from the customer” more than 3 times in your last 5 meetings, you should probably read this ;-).

Feel free to download the PDF file (via Slideshare). After all, it is… Free!

And also, do not hesitate to give your view on it! 😉

Happy EDM-ing!

Twitter as only news source.

A few days ago, US government admitted that they asked Twitter to postpone a planned maintenance operation because they wanted to make sure that the only communication media between Iran and the outside world would remain available in the hectic days just after the elections.

I am not going to start the discussion whether that was a good thing to do or not, but it should give an important wake-up call to news agency’s and marketeers all together… If Twitter becomes a matter of ‘national security‘ you better at least take the effort to take a close look at what it can mean for your sector and company.

Twitter will or will not be gone in 5 years, but the evolution that is behind it may last for a very long time…


Authenticity is something strange… and dangerous.

For companies, this becomes more and more important (think of all the green washing issues).
However, also people should take care about what they say they are and what to show in their behavior.

A Peugeot 206 with stickers of Greenpeace and WWF that passes you at 140 km/h is probably not authentic…