Now is the perfect time to start speaking to your customers and refine what and how you are offering your products or services. With people’s routines in upheaval and new needs evolving everyday its more important than ever to find out what your customers are thinking, feeling and doing.

The needs of society are being transformed right before our eyes. The elderly and disabled are being given their own shopping hours, baking has seemed to make an all-time come back with flour being raided from shelves and of course the major need that kicked everything off and signalled the beginning of the apocalypse, the need for toilet paper.

If your chasing sustainability and growth for your business in this rapidly changing environment, then focusing on the needs of your customers is the most certain way to get there.

Add 60% on to your bottom line. Is that a better figure to what you’re pulling in now? Or perhaps the future is so uncertain you’re not sure what the rest of the financial year has is store. Research by Deloitte and Touche, states customer centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies without such a focus.

With a customer focus you’ll be in good company. This little gem is from Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder.

The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.”

It’s hard to argue that there isn’t value in being customer focused. Especially when you are quoting a guy that makes variably $11.5 million per hour. That’s right per hour, it’s not a typo.

Business Insider Australia states “Amazon has 14 leadership principles that guide its employees’ business decisions, but founder Jeff Bezos said just one is the “secret sauce” to the trillion-dollar company’s success. Focusing on what customers want or need has driven many of Amazon’s most profitable business moves.

“The No. 1 thing that has made us successful by far is obsessive compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor,”

Bezos said in a talk at the Economic Club of Washington on September 13.

Using your data to analyse customer needs?

The problem with using data to analyse customer demand is the lag. By the time you’ve got the data to make a decision the needs may have changed . That’s how quickly things are moving. It’s also tricky to predict where customer behaviour will go.

If you have an in depth understanding to what is in the heart and minds of your customers, then you will beat any algorithm.

How to get started.

It’s simple. For an organisation to become customer centric we need to connect to the customer. The simplest way to do this is by talking to them.

I embark on customer empathy interviews regularly and I have a 100% hit rate on uncovering invaluable insights about customers and their needs. It helps organisations validate their ideas or their gut feel for the right solution and it erodes the uncertainty in making tough business decisions.

Once you have the key insights it’s about refining how you can better improve your service, your customers experience or you may uncover a huge slap in the face opportunity that helps you design a whole new service. Put simply, it helps you meet the needs of customers. The “secret sauce” as Bezos terms it, to success.

Ex-President Barack Obama making calls himself to voters from a local campaign field office in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Get customer centric in 4 days

Here’s how I can help.

Day 1-2 – I Start interviewing your customers

Day 3 – Write up a complete customer insights report to help you understand your customers and their motivations

Day 4 – We hold an on online workshop with your team to get creative and find new solutions and new ways of doing things

It’s time to get human. Organisations need to understand their customers and jump in their shoes. If you’d like to chat more about how to design solutions for your customers send me a message. I’m here to help.

I’m about to embark on another series of empathy interviews and I’ve found myself in the same place I do every time before I pick up that phone and reach out to my client’s customers. Nervous!

I’m nervous about the reception I get on the other end of the phone. I hate to think of the fact that I’m imposing on people’s day, perhaps I’m interrupting them. Sometimes people aren’t receptive to being asked their opinions. We are so used to getting surveys from organisations that when we receive a phone call from a human asking us questions we are surprised.  “Wow, you actually are asking me real questions?” is what one of my interviewees said.

Here’s where I’m going to be honest 98% of my interviews are amazing and I’ve never gone without gaining incredible results. NEVER. It’s why I do what I do. I love bringing new insights to organisations and helping them learn more about their customers. BUT I have stumbled on 1 or 2 individuals who were let’s say not so receptive. Wait, I said I was going to be honest…. OK they were pretty nasty and of course these very short conversations are the ones that always stick out in my mind. Not the other 100’s of conversations that I’ve had. You know all those ones that were hugely valuable and insightful for my clients and entirely fascinating for me.

This is why I understand why organisations find it hard to reach out to their customers.

Despite the fact that asking your team to talk to your customers could be the cheapest and most valuable thing your organisation can do, it’s not being done.

It’s not my job….

It becomes even trickier when you get into debates of who’s job is it to talk to the customers. If you have a customer’s service team it’s them. If you have a service delivery team it’s could also be their job or a sales team… yep they’re right, there it’s up to them.

Here’s the problem with that. In a situation where you are delivering the service people find it hard to be upfront. They want the service to remain up to scratch so they’re not going to bite the hand delivering the service. Then there’s re-pour. Anyone in sales are good at creating re-pour it’s how to make a sale step.1 in sales 101. The customer wants a good deal, so I’ll keep my mate onside.

Whilst we all find it hard to ask for feedback it tends to go up a notch when its from a customer. No body wants to be reported as doing a bad job so let’s navigate this idea quicker than an F1 car at a round roundabout.  

3 tips for getting customer insights FAST!

1. Put yourself in their shoes

Empathy is the starting point to success. Think abut what your customers are faced with and how your product or service is either helping them or potentially hindering them.

2. Have a plan

I said a plan. Not a script. Think about the key challenges your business is facing and how that relates to your customer.

Don’t get skewed feedback. Look at the relationship between the person asking the questions and the person answering. Here’s where a third party from outside your organisation is ideal.

3. Make it a focus

Think about the importance of the information you’re after. Remember the most innovative companies in the world all have one thing in common. Being connected to their customers and gaining insights on their needs.

Want to fast track the process of getting customers insights? Shortcut all the accountability issues, crush the lead time it takes to get insights and ensure you get open honest (not skewed) feedback that you can take right into your strategic planning. Here’s where I can help. Contact me for more details.

Let’s chat about how I can help your organisation become more connected to your customers.

Put the customer’s needs first and you’ll thrive.

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.”

Kevin Stirtz

So you’re about to endeavour on your marketing plan. Where do you start?

Have you googled your marketing plan template full of headings like market opportunity, competitors, SWOT analysis, promotional plan, and social media schedule. You could be working for months and still be working on the plan. It never seems polished enough which holds back your execution.

Here’s a novel idea. Throw it out and just spend some time thinking. Take your shoes off and mentally put those toasty tootsies into the shoes of your customers.

Now you might be in an organisation with a plethora of data. Great! Get your digital team to give you some insights as to what the individuals who are visiting your website look like. They may have heaps or limited data but go with what you’ve got but don’t stop there. Use this as a guide but do some more reflection.
Look at your current customers. Who are they, where are they, what do they do but most importantly how do you help them. You might have a few different types of customers. People from different sectors, people who fill different roles and that’s ok. Who is typically your main type of customer and what the subsets of your other customers.
You might come up with 3-4 typical types of people. Now let’s give them a name, age and start thinking about the action they take before they find you. Think about their worries, their pain points and their aspirations.
Now have a chat with these customers. What language do they use? How do they talk about your product or service? Now you’re onto something.
Use this intel, this data, this skunkworks mission insights and think about how you can reach your customers differently…. Key word is differently. Think about what you are already doing and do something new.
Don’t start planning your marketing until you know more about who…. (as in the individuals, the people, the Geoff’s, the Mary’s) you are talking to.
B2B and B2C is irrelevant. It’s H2H. Human to Human. The context of consumer or business may involve different tactics or methods but marketing at it’s core is about communicating to people whether in a business or consumer environment.
Start with you customer in mind and the rest gets a bit easier from there.

I’ve seen amazing non for profits here in Perth all delivering phenomenal levels of service to their customers because they are hugely focused on the needs of the community. Without knowning it they apply human centred approaches to deliver the best standards in care and apply evidence based and clinical expertise all to benefit their customers. Now we see these organisation adapting the formal frameworks of human centred design quite deliberately to innovate the way they can deliver new services.

There’s also another way to use the elements of human centred design and that is within the internal workings of any organisation. If embedded into the organisation as a way of problem solving for any challenge teams and organisations can have exponential results.

The methods are simple and they support organisations to do 2 main things. Work better, with greater results.

Why work better?

So we say work better because when you use a human centred approach you can improve everything from processes to culture. If you are working on internal challenges such as recruitment then you are designing for the people you want to attract to your organisation. If you are designing for improved processes you are designing for the teams using those processes. The design process isn’t restricted to designing for clients, its designing for humans. Internal or external to your organisation.

Why greater results?

The results of initiatives that come from a design process have a better chance of success because the design process first of all identifies the gaps in what we know and then strips away assumptions. We become closer to the individuals we are designing for and that therefore, reduces the risk.

There’s no place we need human centred design more than in the social impact space.

Getting a better understanding

The vital component is the starting point which is identifying what the challenge actually is. You can then validate this via research. Ethnographic-based research… say what now? Let’s strip this bare and make away with the imposing title. Design research relies on observation and critical thinking.

For example in a case study for The Good Kitchen in Denmark it’s stated

“Despite the best intentions, when leaders of agencies that serve the indigent or the elderly base solutions on their own views of the needs and wants of those clients, the quality of the solutions suffers. We simply cannot be sure that we understand the details of their lives, when we don’t observe and ask.”

https://thisisdesignthinking.net/2016/05/the-good-kitchen/

It can be as simple as asking a few questions or taking the time to shadow the people you’re designing for and then there’s collecting case studies and holding interviews.

How can I encourage my team to use design principles?

Where can you start? The best way is starting small. Here’s an example.
The Australian Red Cross have a toolkit full of direction for their employees on human centred design, what it is and how to use it. The toolkit explains the concepts behind Agile, Lean Start Up, value proposition design and the list goes on. This resource is for staff to refer to as best practice tools and methods that can be adopted by any team, at any time, in the design of products, services and experiences.

“There was an appetite across the organization for more resources to help better understand and frame problems, understand and involve end users in the design process, uncover and validate assumptions, make better and more creative and deliver value iteratively.
Australian Red Cross needed a toolkit.”

https://www.redcross.org.au/

The fastest way for organisations to embrace the methods of design thinking is to simply start doing it. You may need someone who’s been through the design process before or someone that wants to up skill in this area. They can lead the charge and start small. In my experience once managers demonstrate the importance of these methods by doing it themselves in both informal and informal ways it will ripple through the organisation.

Let’s make market research personal. When was the last time you were 100% truthful on survey? If the survey takes over 3 mins do you lose focus and become tick happy? 

Have you ever been in a focus group with a bunch of strangers? Did you feel comfortable? 

If we really want to uncover customer needs we need new methods. Survey’s and focus groups have their place but if we’re creating a product or service, we need to get personal. Let’s look at how successes have been achieved in the past. What is a common theme? What is the superpower of these organisations? Most of the time you can bet it’s their ability to uncover market insights and the ability to creatively meet untapped needs. 

Marketing quickly becomes a big expense if you’re trying to gain reach and awareness of a product that people just don’t feel they need. It also gets expensive if you’re unsure of you’re market and who your customer is. A scatter gun approach can be a pricey way to test and measure and it ensures waste. Waste in terms of time, money and resources.

By seeking out extreme users, immersive techniques, consumer case studies, testimonials and inspiration from success you could develop the next disruption

With a few short conversations with your customers you can create the your next big marketing campaign

Better results through real market research.

Shall we call it Market Realsearch?  

To prove our point let’s talk about UberEats and how they innovate. 

Realising that they can’t possibly understand the intricacies and infrastructure of every city from their offices in San Francisco they created “The Walkabout Program“. 

“Every quarter, designers visit an UberEATS city and dive deeply into that market. They learn the city’s food culture. They study the transportation and logistical infrastructures. They interview delivery partners, restaurant workers, and consumers. They eat and eat and eat. Upon return, they share their insights with the entire team. Each visit helps build a comprehensive understanding of our different markets and customers.” 

They also “Overshadow” another form of immersion where they follow the live deliveries as well as sit in people’s homes to when they are ordering their meal. “Watching our products in the wild helps us better understand the needs of our customers, how well our designs address those needs, and what challenges exist in the real world”.  

This is what is termed immersion in human centred design, and it removes the variables of an artificial environment. Real insight from real experiences. 

The power of a testimonial!

UberEats also actively seek out feedback from delivery partners, restaurants and consumers to try and fill any gaps that might come from the above initiatives. This then gives them powerful insights to dissect and discuss new opportunities. This is done via Innovation workshops.  

When they need to develop ideas, they form a cross functional team to “generate insights and inspiration, then run creative exercises to generate a range of ideas. These structured brainstorms shake up the mindset of the team, push our creativity, and spawn innovative ideas like pooled deliveries and ‘virtual’ restaurants only available on UberEats.” 

Disruption

Why didn’t UberEats just get the insights from big data and deep dive research, surveys and mass market campaigns? None of these methods allow for the insights that are gained from more intimate personal research and if we are talking about true disruption then you won’t have any like products to compare to and certainly no past trends to predict from. 

If we are talking about emerging behaviours, then its highly likely that if you’re waiting on industry stats and data to guide your way… then you’re too late. 

UberEats has made innovation and human centred design part of their DNA like many other success stories. They realise the power in remaining close to and having empathy for all the parties they serve. From the in-home diner, to the delivery partner to the restaurateur.  

Before you spend thousands on qualitative and quantitative surveys, reports and industry data how about considering a new method. Consider how you or your team can truly gain exposure through immersion in your market or look at external support who can guide you on how to do this and even provide a new point of view to old problems.  

This article is by Olivia O’Connor, Founder of Liv By Design 

“At Liv By Design we start with the customer. We put ourselves in their shoes and we have empathy for their needs.” 

Olivia helps organisations gather true research of her clients by offering support in adapting immersion and interview techniques that gather insights that could transform your marketing results and provide valuable insight about your organisation.  

Conversion rate optimisation, Pay per click, omnichannel, evergreen content, referral marketing, digital marketing, responsive design, call to action, search engine optimisation, lifecycles, inbound, chat bots, sales enablement, lead scoring, content creation, social media schedules, boosts, sales funnels, affiliate marketing, organic reach and ………………….. bbr-eathe.  

The way we communicate (or market) to potential customers certainly isn’t as clear cut as it used to be. We’ve reached new heights in complexity. The bad news is, we are nowhere near the peak and instead we’re more likely to be just at base camp. As the most informed yet distracted consumers that ever existed our focus will only continue to decentralise from the one or two major social media sites to many, many more. As marketers this makes reaching your customers in a timely and cost-efficient manner well, tricky. Not impossible, just trickier, more involved and more demanding of creative new approaches.

Then there is the widening chasm between marketing teams and leaders of organisations. KPI’s for marketing teams demand that we are across all the analytics and every metric we can get our hands on. We can often report these in the most polished spreadsheet and presentation fit for any global audience but what does it all mean, really? We need to make this relevant and this is where at times some teams can struggle. Leaders don’t have time to delve into detail and that’s all that the marketing team know how to provide. This is where as marketers we need the ability to be able to simplify our explanations of what we do and almost act as interpreters for ourselves. We need to constantly question our statement with so what? We increased our reach by 34%… yadda yadda yadda. So what? What result did we have in new customer activity and perceptions?

Make it relevant

Relevant to our business development teams who need insights to make sales. Relevant to our R&D teams to provide clear focus. Relevant to the leaders of the organisations who need to know the big picture and how it relates to their role and influence in the industry.

Most of all what we do, needs to be relevant to customers. We need to analyse the information and go one step further. How about we ….. ok wait for it. Talk to our customers, face to face. Talk to them about their journey why they used you, how they found you, why you and not someone else. Will they come back? Ask why or why not?

Let’s not fear the connection customer centricity brings. It’s the one thing that will give us a breakthrough moment and a better result. Let’s start testing what we put out there and stop making our communications polished one-way messages that we hope they read and understand.

The best brands in the world spends thousands researching how to be relevant and they don’t always hit the mark, but they go to the extra effort to understand their consumers and the reactions of their initiatives.

What I’m suggesting is we start testing small and connect with a customer to gain feedback. We could go the extra mile to co-design if we have a significant project. That’s a whole other blog ;o)

Customer Focus

Customer profiling and journey mapping are now well known in the digital marketing space and it’s a great way of aligning the design of our website and structure of our sales funnel and even knowing the language to use. Here’s my pursuit… let’s take these initiatives off-line. Let’s take this energy, focus and time and look at our entire organisation.

Look at the core problem we are solving for our customers and how well coordinated and aligned our services are to their expectations and needs. You’ll find some of the solutions lie with marketing, but some might not be. What a customer journey mapping session will do is highlight the changes and improvements you can make to keep your organisation true to its brand promise.

Break free of assumptions

We (as marketers) don’t know everything, and we never will from behind a screen. We can analyse the data we can make assumptions we can identify trends we can predict. Heck we can do a lot with data. I love data but I only love it from the insights we gain from it. Without insights and the ability to apply them they are just numbers.

The best marketing comes from authenticity, an ability to connect and heck even a sense of vulnerability. Let’s stop pretending we are the guru who knows it all and instead take the time to talk to a customer. Open our minds and let’s be more curious about why they make the decisions they make. Break down the barriers and let’s get to know our customer. They will help us unlock how to attract more people like them. Without customers innovation, disruption and all things termed success are impossible.  

Hey this is Liv, thanks for taking the time to read my article. I created Liv By Design to help organisations connect with their customers and empower them to create their own marketing strategies.

Digital is important, social is important and we often jump to these tactical solutions to gain new customers without taking the time to really identify and understand your customer and their needs. If you start your marketing strategy with your customer, you’ll have a more refined idea of who you are targeting and the best methods. This will cut your marketing costs and help you stand out amongst the crowd of brands that are grasping for audience attention.

At Liv By Design I ensure the process is simple, developing a marketing strategy in line with all the other conventions of your organisation like culture, customer experience and customer service.

Not sure if you are tackling your marketing, right? Maybe you’re a busy marketing team who just don’t have time to connect with customers? Give me a call I’m always here to offer obligation free advice.

How UberEats continue to innovate with Design Thinking.

In 2014 infamous ride share company Uber launched into the food delivery industry. The online food ordering and delivery platform UberEats was born and it brought the late night lamb sandwich into question. Now there was a better option that met a need that crossed demographics and geographies. Based in San Francisco UberEats now delivers from restaurants in over 80 cities around the world making in to Perth in 2016.

Why are we talking about food delivery? Well there’s many success stories out there about innovative companies causing disruption. Each one has something we can learn from. What may seem to be overnight success stories are instead ideas that have been formed, research and tested over years. In this Innovation Series by Liv By Design we want to explore what are some of the simple methods that have been used so that we can adapt some learnings and create our own success stories. 

UberEats hits Perth

Here’s some fun facts that were published by WA Today following the arrival of UberEats to Perth and gives a sneak peak of the impact it had.

  • Hungriest time of the week in Perth is on Fridays at 6pm (No suprise there really!)
  • The first ever UberEATS order in Perth was a cheeseburger royale and steak cut chips ­from Jus Burgers in Leederville
  • The total distance travelled by the top delivery partner was 5,440 trips = 13,725 km. That’s Perth to Melbourne and back, twice!
  • The most ordered Indian dish in Perth is butter chicken ­- enough to fill 8.3 swimming pools.

Better results through real market research

Shall we call it Market Realsearch?  

Realising that they can’t possibly understand the intricacies and infrastructure of every city from their offices in San Fransciso they created The Walkabout Program“. We’ll talk about this is more detail but this is what is termed immersion in design thinking

“Every quarter, designers visit an UberEATS city and dive deeply into that market. They learn the city’s food culture. They study the transportation and logistical infrastructures. They interview delivery partners, restaurant workers, and consumers. They eat and eat and eat. Upon return, they share their learnings with the entire team. Each visit helps build a comprehensive understanding of our different markets and customers.” 

They also “Overshadow” another form of immersion where they follow the live deliveries as well as sit in peoples homes to when they are ordering their meal. “Watching our products in the wild helps us better understand the needs of our customers, how well our designs address those needs, and what challenges exist in the real world”.  

The power of a testimonial!

UberEats also actively seek out feedback from delivery partners, restaurants and consumers to try and fill any gaps that might come from the above initiatives. This then gives them powerful insights to dissect and discuss new opportunities. 

This is done via Innovation workshops.  

When they need to develop ideas they form a cross functional team to “generate insights and inspiration, then run creative exercises to generate a range of ideas. These structured brainstorms shake up the mindset of the team, push our creativity, and spawn innovative ideas like pooled deliveries and ‘virtual’ restaurants only available on UberEats.” 

“If you’re trying to design for the future, don’t design for behaviors that are happening now. Design for behaviors that are emerging, that are going to be new behaviors.” 

Lynda Deakin, Managing Director of IDEO’s Design for Food studio 

Dispruption

Why didn’t UberEats just get the insights from big data and deep dive research, surveys and mass market campaigns? None of these methods allow for the insights that are gained from more intimate personal research and if we are talking about true disruption then you won’t have any like products to compare to and certainly no past trends to predict from. 

If we are talking about emerging behaviours then its highly likely that if you’re waiting on industry stats and data to guide your way… then you’re too late. 

UberEats has made innovation and design thinking methods part of their DNA like many other success stories. They realise the power in remaining close to and having empathy for all the parties they serve. From the in-home diner, to the delivery partner to the restaurateur.  

Before you spend thousands on qualitative and quantitative surveys, reports and industry data how about considering a new method. Consider how you or your team can truly gain exposure through immersion in your market or look at external support who can guide you on how to do this and even provide a new point of view to old problems.  

This article is by Olivia O’Connor, Founder of Liv By Design a business solutions company. Liv By Design is dedicated to helping business owners grow their business and start strategically planning their initiatives by harnessing the creativity of their workforce through facilitated workshops.

We also help organisations gather true research of their clients by offering consultancy services in immersion techniques to gather insight that could transform your organsiation.