Customer Experience: The Little Things Edition

I took my children to In-N-Out Burger for lunch today and before we left I wanted to wash my hands. Lunch was enjoyable, the staff was pleasant, and the overall experience was up to their usual standard but the one thing I really noticed was how much paper the automated dispenser gave me when I finished washing my hands.

We have all had the experience in a public restroom where you do the hand wavy thing in front of the red dot and about 3 inches of paper spits out. so you do it again, and again, and yet again before you get enough to complete the drying part of the operation. It is obvious why businesses do this, they 1) never bother to adjust the machine when it is installed, 2) think they are going to save money on paper towels under the belief that we are too stupid to get the machine to give us more paper, and/or 3) just don’t care.

In-N-Out pays attention to the small details because they give you enough to dry off and it is representative of their entire operation, the small things add up and impact your overall experience. It may just be a burger and fries but they have set a standard for fast food that others covet so the next time you think something is too small to care about I would urge you to think about washing your hands.

Bing/Google Now: Context Wins

I woke up this morning and my Galaxy Tablet reminded me that I have some phone calls, an offsite meeting that will take approximately 20 minutes to drive to, and some interesting news as well as a weather report. It’s easy to overlook how far we have come in the quest to provide useful personal assistants.

Screenshot_2013-03-12-09-20-01While catching up on some reading two articles jumped out at me that really drove home this point, the first is really incremental in nature about Google Now coming to the desktop and the Chrome OS.

Google Now is something that snuck up on me and despite my initial cynicism it has grown on me. When I updated my tablet to Jelly Bean I stumbled on the Now feature when I held the Home button for a little too long. The cards are still pretty sparse but I really like how it pulls things out of my email and present additional contextual information like directions and time to drive, and package tracking information. This is really useful and unobtrusive. I don’t have to manage it, things just happen.

I only wish that Now would support multiple accounts.

The more interesting news piece I read this morning was about Microsoft’s research project, coincidentally (or not) called Bing Now. What is really fascinating about this is how Microsoft is looking beyond what you have on your device and realizing the greater vision of “an internet of things”.

Heavily invested in the vocabulary of crowdsoucing, I think this misses the point that it’s not about crowdsourcing but rather networked devices. Crowdsourcing implies co-creation, being able to find restaurant that isn’t crowded is incredibly appealing and not at all a function of crowdsourcing in the traditional sense of the word. Having said that, if Microsoft can deliver even just a small part of this they will have a winner.

From CIO to CMO, A Data Story


“If you came into marketing because you didn’t like numbers, then you don’t have much of a future.”
-Beth Comstock, CMO at GE

Much has been written about the shift in spending from the CIO to the CMO, Gartner has been out front on this by forecasting that by 2017 the office of CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO function. Whether this proves to be true or not masks a more stark reality for professionals in marketing organizations, which is that their jobs are fundamentally changing.

The era of Mad Men in marketing isn’t over but the creative and communication aspects of the marketing function are diminishing in importance. Marketing can no longer exist as a siloed function, isolated from product, engineering and operations, and more significantly there is a substantial skills gap that marketing professionals will need to fill to respond to a complete shift to digital.  Traditional skills are not going away but the emerging reality is that data-centric strategies for engaging radically different customer behaviors and more complex buyer journeys will not be realized without retooling people.

The other reality that marketing teams cannot escape is that they alone cannot anticipate and develop all of the content that will be required to successfully execute on company objectives. More reliant than ever before on earned and sponsored content, marketing teams will need to better instrument and provide social incentives for the creation and re-use of earned media and that goes well beyond what is the norm today for social media engagements. However, the shift to digital also requires organizations to think beyond text.

Video has rapidly emerged as the new whitepaper, and this should not be surprising given that YouTube is the second most used search engine on the web. If you are tempted to raise your hand and say "hey Jeff you just said Mad Men is over!" let me stop you know and point out that video relies on 2 core strengths in addition to the creation skillset, which is the ability to drive distribution and more significantly instrument video for data collection that enables refinement of creation and distribution. Video is data… and then there is Pinterest which has it’s own unique dynamics but is proving itself to be a powerful contributor to digital marketing success.

Whether text, video or images, the common requirement is instrumentation of the content to measure the interaction and the impact. No piece of content exists in isolation, and just like you measure demand generation activities in the context of a funnel where each stage of development passes through, discards or recycles leads, marketers have to measure content through a parallel funnel that captures people according to interests and things they find curious.

The content funnel is more like publishing than sales development because it is all about building a sustainable audience that trusts you as a source of authority. Measuring the impact of content through social channels, time on site, and referral sources is a valuable technique for sourcing new ideas, concepts, and influencers in your market.

I came across a fascinating post that explores the concept of brand newsrooms as a marketing function. This is something my friend Tom Foremski has been writing about for a long time, the notion that brands are just another form of media entity and this post certainly reinforces that.

In the age of social media, overnight viral sensations and the constant flow of information and multimedia experiences, it’s not surprising that brands find the newsroom idea enticing. In order to keep up with the times and current media-consumption behaviors, brands are starting to shift towards higher-metabolism marketing that responds quickly to culture, much like how journalists in newsrooms act quickly in response to important events.

The Changing Role of Marketing Changes Everything

The fact that IT spending is shifting from CIOs to CMOs is interesting but not a full and complete story, and for vendors who will look at this trend and shift their strategies to selling to a different title miss the point and will ultimately fail. Marketing as a function has to become more integrated with other functions because, like customer service, it is on the front end of business processes that will ultimately prove to be game changers for how companies engage their customers, prospects and ultimately establish competitive position in their markets.

Professionals in the marketing function will need to become more data scientist, looking for every conceivable opportunity to instrument content and then use that knowledge to drive audience and participation. Marketing budgets, as a consequence, will become less campaign and project based, more process and systems based as a result. so while we all may be selling to a different title it may not matter all that much.