Marketers' Breakfast: Just Ask Your Customers1st Dec 2017
Wednesday 29th November
The Anthologist, 58 Gresham Street, London
We invited a select group of marketers to breakfast. Our discussion focussed on talking to customers, how best to do so, and how to respond to what they tell you.
Tim Ryan, interim CMO at Wahaca, kicked off the conversation by telling us about his brand’s test kitchen in Shoreditch. Customers are asked to rate dishes on a mobile, and in return they receive a digital, rather than paper, bill at the end of the meal. The initiative allowed Tim to get genuine feedback on food quality from 90 customers in one day.
Our Managing Director at Amigo, Frederic Kalinke added another example of asking customers for feedback at the right time: the “Aha!” moment. Brands can effectively outsource marketing to customers by harnessing their emotions in those moments when they directly experience the real value of a product. FinTech investment managers Wealthsimple for example give customers the opportunity to recommend a friend at the moment when a customer’s tax rebate is automatically managed and applied for the first time.
Sailing holidays provider Sunsail adopt a similar approach, as Sunsail Marketing Assistant Caroline Barbour explained. Caroline and the team use “Welcome Home” emails that are timed to arrive when customers return from their holidays. The emails notify customers of future promotions but also prompt them to provide stories about their time away. Not only have Sunsail used these stories as user-generated content on social media, but the information they gather informs their “Flotilla Fridays” and “Love at First Sail” campaigns.
Reza Schott, Group Head of Social at Paysafe Group, agreed on the power of “Aha!” moments because these points at which brands over-deliver on their promises are the points where they are most likely to be talked about by their customers.
PensionBee VP of Marketing, Jasper Martens explained the importance to his company, a FinTech pensions aggregator, of asking customers what they want. He noted how effective it has been to give every customer a real person to interact with (a beekeeper) from the start, while also mentioning that he regularly picks up the phone to ask for feedback from the customers who love PensionBee’s service the most.
Simon Hawtin, Investor Brand Manager at Prodigy Finance, reiterated the importance of regular communication with customers to challenge internal perceptions. The investment marketing team had been focussing their pitch to private and alumni investors on the social impact of investing in MBA students. However just asking customers about their motivations quickly showed that this was a secondary factor and that the return on the investment was most important.
There was agreement around the table that initiatives to use customers in marketing should give agency to the customers involved. Nobody condoned an approach of collecting as much feedback as possible and simply plastering it all over campaigns, as this may damage trust between individual customers and a brand.
Alec Dent, Business Development Manager at the ride-sharing platform BlaBlaCar, mentioned their “guardians of the community.” These are the seasoned members who offer real-time assistance to new customers throughout the booking journey. Simon Hawtin added that Prodigy Finance have taken a similar approach by using student ambassadors to manage campus events.
Jasper Martens discussed the fact that marketers can use their closeness to customers to justify involvement in product development, even though it is usually the preserve of engineers or developers. Aimee Wilde noted that this aligns with the work of Cambridge Marketing Professor Jaideep Prabhu, who identifies in his book ‘Frugal Innovation‘ how the success of many modern companies is determined by their willingness to enable customers to influence their product roadmaps.
Tim Ryan concurred that getting marketing to help shape products was important for giving the “voice of the customer” as well as the “conscience of the business.” Reza Schott mentioned Lebara as an example of this collaboration between marketing, technology and product. Embracing a growth-hacking approach, Lebara Money Transfer was able to acquire 60,000 customers within 3 months of its launch.
Our guests filled the discussion with examples of smart uses of customer feedback.
Particularly noteworthy was Alec Dent’s story of BlaBlaCar’s use of customer feedback in a time of need. Policy changes in France had reduced the price of public transport, so BlaBlaCar could no longer market themselves there as the drastically cheaper option. They asked customers for their favourite things about BlaBlaCar and changed their message from one that focussed solely on price to the other benefits their customers find in the service, such as being able to go directly from A to B, socialising with car share passengers, and having insurance protection.
Reza Schott added another example. Coolblue, a technology ecommerce site in Holland, created moments of delight at the most mundane points of the buying journey. At points where customers have to wait a little while, Coolblue included a Spotify playlist and 15 hour Youtube video about waiting. They also ran a competition around the most creative uses of the boxes that their products come in. Both of these are clever responses to customer feedback on their least favourite parts of their experience.
There was a lot of useful advice for marketers shared at this breakfast. Here are the most important points to take away:
- Find the right times to target customers for feedback, preferably “Aha!” moments.
- Find the right ways to ask your customers, as honestly and directly as possible.
- Include your customers but don’t make them feel “used.”
- Think carefully about the right way to act on customer feedback.
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