Monthly Archives: August 2010

Inception Customer Service

As I mentioned in a previous post, implanting an idea in another person’s mind and having them think it’s their own is the basic premise for the movie Inception. Here is how to use in your customer service.

Because today’s customers are very demanding with high expectations suppliers must be ready to deliver what the customer wants. The more the customer feels like they want to be part of the organization, the more they will tell others about your organization.

The Regular

Customers love to be recognized as a regular, be called by name, be able to say “the usual” and the server knows what that means. I know of a guy who has his preferred drink waiting on him at his favorite table as soon as they see him drive into the restaurant parking lot. Now what came first – the great service, or the fact that he dines at this establishment so often they just got to know him. Now the brain-twister: does he come there 3 to 4 days a week because it’s his idea or because the establishment has such great service they implanted the idea in his mine he could become a regular with that level of service if he just came back more?

People like to be known as regulars, people like to think they are memorable enough the service provider knows how they order, what they like to wear, that they like to be on the cutting edge of technology, and people like to be recognized as a member of the club within the club (“Welcome to Marriott Mr. White. I see you are a gold member with us and we are glad to have you back staying with us.”)

These are what will bring customers back time and time again and they will think it’s their own idea to make that choice.

The Rewards

Don’t be fooled that reward programs make a difference. It all depends of the value of the rewards. For example my Marriott points will allow me to accumulate them until eventually they will provide me with a couple of “free” nights I can use for vacation. This has value on many levels.

The new key chain tag I now have from Panera they scan on each visit will eventually give me a free bagel every ten visits or so. This doesn’t have the same value because I know the buyer data they are collecting from me is of far greater value to them than the bagel they give me in return.

Hey Panera, how about a “First Class” line for those who accumulate enough visits to achieve a preferred status? Or a sample bagel of the newest flavor you are beta-testing periodically? Now this program would have more clout because the customer now feels of more value. And that’s the point. When I feel that I get special treatment (that I am willing to earn) at any establishment suddenly your location becomes my preferred destination – and “I thought of going there all on my own.”  Really now.

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Inception Marketing

I’ve watched the movie Inception twice and look forward to renting it so I can stop it and make notes to support my theory of what is exactly going on. My friends are watching it multiple times to support their theories as well. This is probably the most discussed movie I can remember since Memento, another Christopher Nolan creation.

The basic premise of the movie is placing an idea into a person’s mind (and have them think it’s their own) in order to get the recipient of the idea to act a certain way.

Good marketing makes this happen. Good customer service can also make this happen. And creating a product as alive as Inception, where people talk about it for weeks, is the ultimate business creation. Let’s break this down.

Good marketing

When a person gets thirsty for a beer, what makes them choose which one they drink? Billions of ad dollars are hoping the decision is predicated on a piece of marketing that is lodged in the person’s brain. The idea is implanted that a particular brand of beer is “your choice” to buy the next time you go to the store. Beer sales are reliant on brand loyalty and a relationship with the customer. Taste tests have shown American beer all pretty much tastes the same, and people can’t identify their favorite beer consistently. This is why the placement of an idea about the brand is so important to repeat sales. You want your brand to be the first the consumer thinks of.

A buyer will purchase a product from the first brand or company that comes to mind 96% of the time. Did they make that choice on their own, or was it a quick access to an idea placed in their minds?

Good marketing, whether it’s from an ad budget of millions of dollars or a post card that stays on the desk of your desired customer, is all about placing a thought in the mind of the buyer that it is their decision (their own idea) to buy your product.

Look at your own marketing approach. How focused is your marketing with the intent of embedding an idea into the minds of your customers? Are your ads cursory, or are they the kind that sticks in the customers minds? Memorable tag lines, messages, and visuals can find a home in those minds you desire to reach.

Ask yourself these questions while reviewing your marketing approach:

How can I send a more consistent message in all of my marketing?

Do my marketing messages live on in the minds of those I am targeting?

What is the idea I want to implant into my customers’ minds about my products and services?

How can I best accomplish that inception?

The rest of the week I will write on how to create Inception Customer Service and Inception Buzz for your business. Remember you want to create ideas that can keep your customers’ minds spinning … like a top.

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Product Innovation: Are Your Products Becoming Obsolete?

Over the last decade a number of things have become obsolete because of innovation, or are virtually on life support. It’s easy to spot in other people’s products and services that are obsolete, but what about your own? After reading this list, reflect on your business. What are the products, services, habits, marketing approaches, and managerial methods that are obsolete in your business. Is your business ready?

1. The busy signal

Phone technology has advanced so much we rarely hear a busy signal any more. Call waiting and voice mail have made hearing the busy signal obsolete. Ask a young person what does a busy signal sound like, and watch the look they give you.

2. Dial up modem

Once again a sound that you hardly hear anymore is the electronic gurgling of a dial up modem searching then making a connection. 10 years ago this was the common Internet connection, today it is pretty much gone from existence.

3. The “Blind” date

Once upon a time when you were fixed up on a blind date you had no clue who the person was or anything about her other than what your friend told you about her. Today with Google, Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter there is an encyclopedia of knowledge you can obtain before actually meeting in person. Which begs the question: Are you using these tools to learn about prospects before calling on them?

4. Poor TV reception

No more rabbit ears and tin foil to find the best channel reception. We have more than 4 stations to pick from as well. CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS were about all the choices you had and getting them watchable was an exercise.

5. Waiting to get photos developed

Photo technology has changed from waiting a few days to get back vacation pictures to having them on your computer in five minutes. Almost unlimited capacity and no waiting are the code words of the photo industry today.

6. Answering machine

Along with the busy signal the small answering machine box has all but disappeared in its short lived life span. This product was being replaced almost as fast as it was invented. It had a very short life cycle.

7. A calculator watch

We no longer need watches with tiny button to do basic calculations on. In fact, we no longer are in need of wrist watches to tell time. Good thing the industry decided to market them as status and jewelry accessories.

8. Floppy disk

Ten years ago portable memory was on 3.5 inch disks that held so little memory capacity; most current programs wouldn’t fit on ten of them. Today, thumb drives, and portable hard drives the size of transistor radios (remember them?) make memory capacity readily available. Expect these devices to go the way of floppy disks in the near future as well with the advance of cloud computing.

9. Car cigarette lighters

The ubiquitous cigarette lighter was on the dash board of every car. Who knew that penny-sized hole would transform into an electronics charging port? The lighters don’t even come with the port anymore as the transformation from lighter to charger port is complete.

10. Getting an AOL disk in the mail

Monthly I was getting a disk of free minutes for AOL. Snail mail spam as it were. When was the last time you saw one of those? AOL the pioneer of online connection is lost in the vast number of ways to access the all important information highway.

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