Magazine article New Zealand Management

Market Insight: Engaging Hearts over Minds

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Market Insight: Engaging Hearts over Minds

Article excerpt

Byline: Dick Brunton

Most people on the planet who deal with companies at least once in their lives -- and that's almost all of us -- have encountered customer service that's been less than stellar.

That's the polite way of putting it. Now let me be blunt by quoting General Electric CEO Jack Walsh, who once said "most employees have their face towards the CEO and their arse toward the customer".

The companies those employees belong to may well talk a good game. They may spend thousands, even millions of dollars on fantastic branding and livery, a catchy jingo about how they'll make your life easier, or an ad campaign starring a GI Joe lookalike from an American police drama.

But then you'll encounter a surly serf from the lower ranks on the helpline, or want to hit your head against a brick wall when confronted by an account manager with a rulebook, and realise the much-vaunted passion for service is only skin-deep.

Increasingly, the customer experience is king. At a time when bad service can ricochet around the world instantly, companies have to ensure a good customer experience is their defining purpose.

That's particularly true for New Zealand companies striving to make a global impact and I am certain it is a trait of the World Class New Zealand Award winners and their companies profiled in this magazine.

If you want to retain customers, and make more money, you have to have a higher purpose, an authentic big ideal that centres on making a customer's life easier. And if you want evidence that this is true, turn to that ever-reliable measure, market research. That's what Procter & Gamble global marketing officer Jim Stengel did when he wanted to know which businesses create the most shareholder value over time -- and how they did it.

He teamed up with Millward Brown, the owners of the world's largest brand equity database, to study 50,000 brands over a decade, really drilling down into the top 50 of those to understand what made them so successful.

The findings were unequivocal. The world's fastest growing enterprises were organised around ideals of improving people's lives, and activated these ideals through their business 'ecosystems'; in other words, customer experience excellence permeated every customer touch point, and became the embodiment of the brand ideal.

That some of the world's brands can sum that up in a tiny symbol -- that seeing that symbol immediately represents excellence in the mind of a consumer -- is proof positive that the 'ecosystem of excellence' within an organisation has worked -- Apple, Toyota and Moet & Chandon are just some examples. …

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