Welcome to our first edition of Leadership Team Blog articles for 2018, from CPM International Contact Centre, Barcelona ” Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning: Demystified ” which comes from Emanuele Ceppelli, IT Director at CPM International Contact Centre.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most significant transformational break-throughs – and perhaps least understood – in modern times. In many ways, the charm of AI is that we don´t realize we are using it when we use Siri, Alexa, or when the phone automatically corrects your grammar.
In very good company with the more notorious innovations like the steam engine, electricity, and the combustion engine, AI is the most important general-purpose technology of our era. But, what is AI doing and how quickly is it improving? Two are the areas of progress that best support the AI journey to improvement: perception and cognition.
With regard to the “perception”, some of the most practical advances have been made in relation to speech. Voice recognition is still far from perfect, but millions of people are now using it — think Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant as an example (by the way – this article was dictated to a computer and transcribed with sufficient accuracy).
These advances in voice recognition have evolved into the ability of a computer to recognize the human natural way of speaking. This ability is known as Natural Language Processing, or NLP. Rather than face limited touch-tone or rigid Directed Dialog, customers can now speak naturally to the device in use.
A study by the Stanford computer scientist James Landay and colleagues found that speech recognition is now about three times as fast, on average, as typing on a cell phone. The error rate, once 8.5%, has dropped to 4.9%. What’s striking is that this substantial improvement has come not over the past 10 years but just since the summer of 2016 (source: Stanford Education Research)
We are also assisting to a rapid improvement in the machine’s ability to recognize images.
An app running on your smartphone will recognize almost any bird in the wild. Image recognition is replacing ID cards and customers analytics, access control; public safety has also started counting massively on facial recognition.
In terms of “cognition” on the other hand, the improvements are going as fast as those around “perception”.
Machine learning (ML), is based on learning from examples rather than a rigid code telling the software what to do and at what time. This is an important break from previous practice.
In a world where DATA are produced at an astonishing rate and machines can learn from examples, we have served the perfect loop for constantly feeding AI engines with relevant information to exponentially grow the ML capability.
A system using IBM technology automates the claims process at an insurance company in Singapore, and a system from Lumidatum, a data science platform firm, offers timely advice to improve customer support. Dozens of companies are using ML to decide which trades to execute on Wall Street, and more and more credit decisions are made with its help. Amazon employs ML to optimize inventory and improve product recommendations to customers. Infinite Analytics developed one ML system to predict whether a user would click on a particular ad, improving online ad placement for a global consumer packaged goods company. JPMorgan Chase introduced a system for reviewing commercial loan contracts; work that used to take loan officers 360,000 hours can now be done in a few seconds. And supervised learning systems are now being used to diagnose skin cancer (source: JPMorgan, Bloomberg)
Let´s see how AI can help our Contact Centres to deliver a better service more efficiently.
Powered by ML and NLP, an Intelligent Front Door replaces and upgrades traditional IVR routing. It allows offering the ease of conversational communication, with Natural Language intent capture at the outset of every call.
An Intelligent Front Door can provide benefits in:
Customers are still calling and every year their expectations are higher than the previous year.
AI helps to offer a proactive and personalized experience from the start. With AI and the right data, customers are recognised and their needs anticipated.
More than half of the customers liaising with a Contact Centre wants to “self-serve”.
With an AI engine and the right DATA, it is possible to provide a personalised and efficient self-service to customers starting from a natural conversation. Many are the processes that can be automated thanks to AI.
By removing the initial contact steps thanks to an intelligent front door, Agents are talking only to the right customers and at the right moment, those that need them most. Customer experience success and failure often revolve around customers’ experiences with Agents.
Since routing and self-service can be automated for the repeatable tasks, Agents are likely to be more engaged. They have access to calls and the most updated customer data through CTI and/or screen pops; warm transfers become the norm thanks to AI and as most of the customers hate repeating information, the Agents do not have to make them.
In summary, AI is likely not a fake and the first to use it effectively will reap the most benefits. Whilst still in its infancy phase, the pace of innovation is exponential and the signs of progress will never be so slow again. Speech recognition has reduced the error rate by 50% only in the last 12 months. This means that in a blink of an eye many Contact Centres will run AI engines as they have configured IVRs until now. But it is only through trial and error that businesses can reach effectiveness in using AI.
To find out more or if you have any questions, please contact Emanuele Ceppelli on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outsourcing, How do you make 1+1=3
The pace of change has never been so fast, with all businesses, markets and sectors being challenged by where to invest to grow, skills shortages, new entrants and margin erosion. The need to partner and have a flexible cost, skills and asset base has never been greater, however if you believed the headlines about ‘Outsourcing’ you might take the view, is this model outdated and time for a change…
With so many clear benefits of Outsourcing should the debate not be about how to make Outsourcing a success and why Outsourcers are in the main seen as Suppliers rather than Partners….
Is the term Outsourcing in itself the issue? Should in future the objective be ‘Smart Sourcing’ where Clients identify partners that bring investment in assets that deliver value and agility in a world where the pace of change demands the need to compete with new entrants and start ups that are disrupting their markets.
The benefits of Outsourcing are clear if done well:
So if the argument to ‘Smart Source’ is clear, how do you make this your competitive advantage? The truth is as ever with every partnership both parties have to play their part and work hard at the relationship, however the sentiment has to move from Supplier to Partner!
So, how do you make 1+1=3:
The Partners Role:
Seeing clear value in any Outsourced engagement is key in ensuring that the relationship can be seen as a partnership rather than a Client/Supplier arrangement. Given the recent examples of poor Outsourcing is now the time to re-examine your current relationships and ensure you gaining the value and competitive advantage that is required in this fast paced business world.
CPM are experts in Outsourced Sales across sectors such as B2B, B2C, Automotive, FMCG, Utilities and On Trade. ROI for our Clients is core to our DNA, therefore our continued investment in Insight and data intelligence is key to deploying Sales resources to where the greatest return will be delivered. CPM are Omni-channel experts with the ability to blend F2F, Contact Centre and Digital to deliver a seamless Sales experience.
If you want to discuss how to partner to achieve Sales success please contact Phil Roberts 07739 301187 email@example.com
Welcome to our first edition of Expert Speak for 2018, ‘Storytelling’ which comes from Mike Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, CPM International Group.
Last year we lost a client – something I am not used to, something I take personally and something that bothers me. Since then I have spent time reflecting on what went wrong and how we need to be better next time.
Part of this process led me to reflect on the current trend for ‘storytelling’. Storytelling, we are told, is the best way to create chemistry with people, to get you more airtime with customers, colleagues and leaders; apparently, that’s because a great anecdote hooks people, takes them on an emotional journey and conveys a memorable message……stories that resonate with people inspire them to take action.
I completely buy all this and successful pitch meetings need to do all of those things but I think there is one word that is missing which is particularly important in challenging economic times…and that word is ‘true’….because stories need to be true stories backed by evidence, fact and testimonials. Donald Trump has introduced the world to fake news and the blurring of fact and fiction and in a world where performance pressure has never been greater, where the sales director’s door revolves ever faster and where experience is at a premium, it is easy to believe the hubris of a new supplier pitch.
Ideas are easy but execution is difficult and the stakes are high when execution falls below the required standard. I hear increasing numbers of stories where clients are on the receiving end of over promising and under delivering suppliers, for example, thinking they are getting a state of the art reporting system from day one only to find it doesn’t work or where they are told they should not worry because their sales team will transfer to the new supplier only to find out that they have lost 50% within the early months because promises are not matched by delivery. This matters because poor performance stains the image of our industry as well the individual company delivering it and the short term pressures our clients are under means they can’t afford to lose a single sale.
Clients need partners who are going to do what they say they will and this year if you ask CPM to pitch for your work, you can rest assured our stories will be true stories.
What is a High-Tech Account Manager?
According to Business Dictionary the definition of an Account Manager is:
“An employee whose job is the day-to-day support of a particular customer’s account with a business, and who serves as the primary point of contact between the customer and the company. The account manager position can provide customer support, technical support, planning and optimization for the account, as well as developing a relationship with the customer.”
The key phrase we take from the above definition is “developing a relationship with the customer.” This is by far the fundamental building block of Account Management in order to be successful. This is no different in High-Tech Account Management, the main difference being that a higher level of technical knowledge regarding the product is often required.
To be successful in this role is dependent on a range of variables but it essentially comes down to being able to build strong, lasting business relationships. Below we have highlighted some key qualities that are instrumental in this.
What are the qualities that lead to success?
In High-Tech Account Management you may often find yourself talking and presenting technical slide-decks to CEOs, CTOs and Software Engineers; professionals that have years of industry experience and have a real in-depth technical knowledge. Although it is not our place to know the absolute ins and outs of the latest technology, it helps to get a high-level overview in order to be confident in the role.
Presenting via the telephone throws up some interesting points to be considered. Body language is non-existent in this scenario, it is all about phone manner and presentation skills. Practice could not be more important than at this stage and the presentation must be concise, thorough and delivered with confidence. Take the time to learn about the company, present the slide deck to colleagues, partners, dogs – anyone who will listen – because the more natural the presentation, the more at ease the listener will be and the more they will be taking in.
Confidence is key to building trust with accounts. Learning the product knowledge and, therefore, presenting it assertively leads to the audience gaining trust in the information provided.
Like in any relationship, trust is the groundwork that must be laid for success. Stick to your word, when you say you are going to do something – follow that through. Know your account, do your homework. Showing that you know your stuff will let your client know you are serious and they will trust to leave their business with you.
This follows on nicely from the previous point – stay in touch. After a successful initial reach out with newer accounts, follow-up is vital. Working with Software Engineers, it is essential to build the engagement pipeline to ensure the momentum continues. An effective engagement pipeline will map out the activities paved out for the next year; embarking on technical projects to produce results that show the valuation of such advancements in the latest products.
Don’t leave an account in the dark, as soon as you know the latest information that impacts this account, inform them. They will respect you for that.
Being a High-Tech Account Manager often means being the middle-man between the client and the Software Engineers, whom will be working hard on technical projects. Build a rapport with both sides to ensure you keep yourself in the know at all times. Keep everyone in check, it is not the responsibility of the Software Engineers to manage your relationship – they manage the project. Linking back to the above point, make sure everything is communicated well; if everything runs smoothly, your client is likely to want to use your services again.
The Final Result
All-in-all our role as an Account Manager is to grow the account base. This will only be done through successful relationship building and management. If all of the above points are done correctly, your rapport will lead to your client having a high level of respect for you and in turn, you will have more influence over the account and where they choose to take their business. Leverage this with some hard work and great client management skills and a successful business relationship will last years and produce many prosperous ventures.
Location, location, location! The importance of share of shelf online ? Detail, online merchandising tool
Holiday shopping is continuing to set new sales records, especially online. In Sweden for example 1/3 of all gifts are estimated to be purchased online. That’s a 14% increase in e-shopping over just last year, according to the prognosis from the Swedish Trade Association Quite a lift. And most other markets are looking the same. Is your brand ready to profit from that? Are you visible online? How are your SKU’s looking? Your digital share of shelf? Do you know? A lot of brand managers don’t. That’s where Detail, our online merchandising tool can help.
Online visibility is crucial for your brand
The digital shelves are where the customers find your product, read about it and compare it to other products. Studies show that over 80% of all shoppers turn to their smartphones to find information about a product, while in a physical store.* This means that your visibility online is of double importance – for information and awareness as well as for actual shopping. But while physical retailing has been studied for decades, the strategies for online sales are quite new.
Consumer behavior – nothing new under the sun
A comforting notion for brand managers wondering how to reach customers online is that people are pretty much the same as before. It’s just the channels that are different. People still prefer products at eye level, which in the digital era translates to being in the top spots of the search result page. Because that’s pretty much the attention span we have. The majority of shoppers who enter a site use the search function (roughly 70% of all shoppers) and the rest rely on menus and navigation to find what they are looking for. Research suggests that shoppers using the search function are the ones most ready to make a purchase. Hence the importance of being in the top tier of the search results. People buy what they see, the only difference is that they now do it from the couch. Hence the rise of “couch commerce”**.
Your keywords – your brand
Since people don’t scroll through page after page of products looking for just your brand, keywords have become increasingly important. Not only for visibility in big search engines like Google and Bing, but also onsite at the different retailers. The modern brand manager needs to be observant about which keywords different brands and products appear under, both generic as well as more specific. Detail helps with this by letting you choose which keywords you would like to keep track of, and gives you clear information on how your brand ranks in relation to the chosen keywords as well as current and historical trends and competitors.
Be visible, be in stock and be purchased
Successful brand managers make sure that their brand is at the top of the digital shelf by bidding on the right keywords. And the products get bought if they are in stock. This is where Detail comes in. Detail is a revolutionary new way to supervise your brand’s online visibility, the in-store availability of your products, the past and present price and consumer ratings and feedback. Detail gives you a comprehensive ranking of your brand’s and products’ position on each retailer site. It even lets you keep track of what your competitors are up to. An easy-to-read interface gives you an instant overview of the current situation … and lets you dig deeper into products or retailers that you wish to investigate more thoroughly.
Stay on top of your game (and the digital shelf)
We have several different packages ranging from a simple status check to the full standing of your brand’s presence online. And once set up, Detail provides daily reports on how well you’re performing. Detail helps your brand to stay visible and on top of the digital shelf wherever you want.
Detail Online Merchandising, was your business ready for Black Friday?
Turn Everyday into Black Friday!
Black Friday is traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping period, and the retail highlight of the year. Physical stores spend months on planning their offers, stocking up and making sure their promoted products are highly visible. But how do you do that online? How do you check price? Visibility? Share of shelf? Most brand managers don’t know. That’s where Detail comes in.
Black Friday online
Traditionally, Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday, which is when the online stores begin their promotions. But since most physical stores are now also online, the line between Black Friday and Cyber Monday has become blurred. Basically, it’s just a full weekend of shopping frenzy. And since everything, retail included, is becoming more digital, you could make the case that Black Friday is online.
Control your brand’s visibility
In a physical store, it’s easy to see how well your brand is presented at a peak shopping time like this. Just go in and have a look. Are the correct signs there? Are they clearly visible? Are the shelves well stocked? Are the products accurately labeled? Are there staff around to assist the customers? Do the staff know your brand and products? Checking your brand’s visibility online is trickier, or at least it used to be.
Detail monitors retailer sites
Detail is a revolutionary new way to supervise your brand’s online visibility, the in-store availability of your products, past and present price, and consumer rating and feedback. Detail gives you a comprehensive ranking of your brand’s and products’ position at each retailer site. It even lets you keep track of what your competitors are up to. An easy to read interface gives you an instant overview of the current situation. And lets you dig deeper into products or retailers that you want to check more thoroughly.
Easy to manage
A lot of effort has been put in to making the Detail interface clear and easy to use. With a lot of features, it’s an all-inclusive product that gives you straightforward and simple answers.
You can view it online or in the app, and easily see how your chosen product/s perform at different retailer sites. You can also set notifications if there are deviations from how your brand should be presented online at any retailers.
Turn every day into Black Friday
We have several different packages ranging from a simple status check to the full monty (not to be confused with the film) of your brand’s presence online. And once set up, Detail provides daily reports on how well you’re performing. That way, every day will turn into a Black Friday for your brand. Which is actually perfectly in line with the original meaning of the phrase: Black Friday stems back from the black ink used by accountants to mark profits (as opposed to the red ink used to mark loss). To this day, the saying “back in the black” is frequently used.
4th December 2017 – Barcelona
CPM Barcelona takes home Silver Best Customer Service Team of the Year Award at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards
We are thrilled to announce that CPM’s International Contact Centre in Barcelona took home Silver in the Best Customer Service Team of the Year Award category at the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards last night; recognising its revolutionary approach to Social Media and Customer Service!
Speaking about the awards, Tom Johnston, Business Unit Director – Sales through Service, CPM Barcelona said, “I am delighted that our ground-breaking and innovative approach to growing the online community, serving our millennials via their channel of choice and truly monetizing Social Media through customer service excellence, has earned the accolades of so many industry experts.”
“CPM is committed to innovation in consumer engagement and embracing digital channels as part of our industry-leading approach to omni-channel customer service. This award acknowledges the amazing success and commitment of our social media team in delivering best-in-class customer service. I am extremely proud of the team,” says Fiona Whelan, Managing Director.
This award recognizes CPM Barcelona for its forward-thinking and innovative approach to social media and social customer service. As customer experience specialists, CPM Barcelona delivers omni-channel customer service solutions for our blue-chip client portfolio, spanning 22+ languages and 65 markets.
Following a multi-stage award submission process, which included a face:face finalist presentation competing against 9 other shortlisted agencies; CPM were awarded Silver medal category winners at the awards ceremony held at the impressive Evolution venue in Battersea Park, London.
CPM Barcelona’s Social Media Team had already triumphed at the UK Customer Experience Awards earlier this year, scooping the prestigious Best in Class – International Social Media Award.
The European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards (ECCCSAs) are the largest and longest running awards in the customer contact industry. Highly regarded for its robust judging process, the ECCCSAs recognise organisations that are leading the way in delivering exceptional service to customer.
About CPM International Contact Centre – Barcelona
CPM Barcelona, as part of CPM Group and a member of the Omnicom Group, is an international contact centre delivering outsourced customer experience and sales solutions on an EMEA-wide basis. CPM specialises in the delivery of omnichannel customer engagement solutions for global clients spanning High Tech, Consumer Electronics, FMCG, Retail and Travel industries and currently covers 22+ languages across 65 markets.
For further information, contact:
CPM Australia, a leading direct sales and contact centre agency and member of CPM International Group; partnered with ACRS to to undertake consumer research to better understand their understand their Christmas shopping intentions. The findings revealed that Australian holiday shoppers preferred to shop in-store than online. A summary of the findings and downloadable infographic are available below.
Sensory experiences will help influence retail sales this Christmas
With the busiest retail period of the year around the corner, we surveyed Australians to better understand their shopping intentions for the 2017 Christmas season. We partnered with the ACRS Shopper Tracker via an online survey with a sample size of 456 shoppers representing the Australian population to gain insights surrounding this key trading period.
“The research reveals that physically touching products will drive purchase decisions this holiday season,” said Andrew Potter, Managing Director, CPM Australia and Retail Safari. “Sixty-eight percent of respondents confirmed that the ‘ability to see and touch’ the product remains the top reason for shopping in-store. Aside from touch creating symbolic connections between buyers and sellers, the data also reveals that the physical store is still the most preferred channel for Australian consumers this Christmas.”
Bricks & mortar VS e-commerce is no longer valid
However, the research reconfirms the notion of bricks & mortar versing e-commerce during the festive season is no longer valid. Australian Christmas shoppers are seeking seamless experiences within their in-store and online shopping undertakings. Increasingly, retailers are recognising that the most valuable shopper this holiday are those who shop across multiple channels and are looking for a consistent omnichannel experience.
Festive spending on the rise
Overall plans for spending are on the rise this year, with a larger proportion of shoppers intending to spend more (+4%) for Christmas in 2017 compared to Christmas in 2016, while a smaller proportion of shoppers intend to spend less (-6%).
Holiday shoppers still prefer to shop in-store than online
As the convergence between online and offline retail becomes more widespread, the desire among Australians to complete their Christmas shopping in actual stores is still strong this year. This holiday season, most consumers plan to use both physical store and online (56%), or only physical stores (30%) to conduct their shopping. Compared to last year, those surveyed who plan to use solely online channels during this holiday trading period has increased from 8% to 14% this year.
‘Tis (already) the season
The study also reveals that holiday shoppers’ path to purchase will start even earlier this year. It seems there are plenty of early birds who are keen to get their wish lists out of the way and are likely motivated by spreading costs over three months instead of one. The figures also indicate the majority of buyers are planning to do most of their Christmas shopping as early as November (50%) leaving only 29% making purchases in December. For those aged between 18-34 early November is their expected holiday shopping month. While those aged 35-54 anticipate to shop in December and for those aged 55-74 expect to shop between late November and December.
Department stores will see fewer shoppers
The most surprising change the study reveals is the switch in Christmas traffic intentions between department stores to discount players. New price-conscious shoppers are now changing directions and are seeking out gifts that won’t break the bank. With 64% of respondents signalling that they’re substituting department stores for discount department retailers over this festive season, we believe this switch as being driven by price and choice. Compared to our 2016 study, this interchange could result in department stores seeing up to 15% less traffic this season.
Gift cards will be the star of the season
While holiday gift categories remain fairly stable, shoppers are intending to buy more DVD & Blu-ray movies or CDs for music (+10%), toys, dolls, games (excluding computer) (+9%) and electronics (+6%) compared to 2016. Gift cards or gift certificates will be the star of the season and remain the most popular gift choice (50%); while craft items and sports gear are among the least popular across the three age groups.
Christmas shoppers are seeking seamless experiences
“This latest research reconfirms the notion that the digital age continues to change the way people shop, especially this Christmas. Today’s digitally connected omnichannel shoppers are looking for more than just products to buy – even when they’re shopping for others this holiday. They will be seeking sensory experiences, as well as seamless, valuable and actionable retail experiences that are consistent with their digital expectations,” says Mr. Potter. “Partly driven by the impending arrival of Amazon and the rise of e-commerce overall, brands and retailers are rediscovering what made them special to begin with. As a result, experiential retail will be prominent this Christmas as brands and retailers will be sharpening their focus through stronger connections with their consumers, by featuring alluring merchandise and encouraging shoppers to engage with the store and their staff. Therefore, the moral of this Christmas story is that it’s vital for bricks & mortar retailers to provide a festive experience to someone going into their store that they couldn’t receive through another channel.”
Download Sensory experiences will help influence retail sales this Christmas Infographic [wpdm_package id=’5832′]
CPM Australia, a leading direct sales and contact centre agency and member of CPM International Group; partnered with ACRS to undertake a consumer research study analyzing the current state of customer service in Australia. The findings revealed that Australian consumers tolerance for poor customer service is lower than ever. A summary of the findings and downloadable infographic are available below.
Australians’ tolerance for poor customer service is lower than ever
Today’s consumers are faced with more choices than ever when considering how they want to reach a brand. They’re more digitally connected, socially networked and better informed than ever before.
Consumers are saying it’s still so hard to navigate and resolve customer service issues. These growing number of touch-points has had the negative effect of widening the gap between brands and consumers.
To better understand these concerns and how customers feel about the state of customer service in Australia, CPM Australia partnered with The ACRS Omnibus Tracker to explore these challenges. The “State of Customer Service in Australia Report” reveals critical gaps between customer service expectations of excellence, ease and accessibility and the disappointing realities associated with a lack of consistencies and response.
The power of word of mouth
The research points out that the power of word of mouth still holds its top ranking as the most popular channel. It reveals that the majority of disappointed consumers share their customer service experiences with one to five people. For those who have had a negative experience, 79% will air their grievances with friends compared to 72% who will share their positive interactions.
“It’s been a long standing belief that recommendations from friends and family is the most influential channel over all other forms of marketing. Yet, if consumers value word of mouth and marketers believe it’s effective, then why aren’t brand owners more focused on it?” said Martin Robbins, General Manager – Contact Centre, CPM Australia.
“I believe that the problem is that for the last few years, brands and retailers have been more focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting” directly with customers,” continued Martin. In other words, brands can get too caught up in collecting social media fans while forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who’ve signed-up just for the off-chance of winning a new gadget.
The survey also reveals some costly realisations. Over one third (34%) of customers surveyed have stopped shopping at a company in the past year due to a poor customer service experience.
In today’s competitive markets, brands can’t afford to lose sales due to poor customer service. This research validates that customer service stories are spread widely — especially bad ones – and in our experience, you’re typically judged by your resolution and not the initial issue. The quality and immediacy of contact, response and resolution of complaints or queries cannot be underestimated in a world where consumers are less brand loyal and where social media and word of mouth can make or break brands.
Factors driving excellence
In an age where technology dominates our lives, the research shows that dealing with human being trumps social and mobile channels. Across all the age groups, 61% percent attributed an important factor to good customer service experience was getting their query resolved on the first attempt and speaking with someone in Australia (60%).
The study also suggests that social media and mobile channels will not solve customer service queries. For both simple and complex enquiries, customers’ top preferred communication channels for customer service based enquiries includes: speaking with a real person on the phone, followed by face-to-face (in store), and finally through email. Not only does the study reconfirm the notion that customers are seeking a human connection, but they are also seeking local Australian knowledge.
When developing a new product, product managers in the consumer electronics market, usually, instead of starting from scratch, develop additional features to add to already existing products.
The truth is that it’s easier to improve than to disrupt. Therefore most companies end up with a product road map that leads to the development of products with an excess of options. Those options will never or rarely be used by the average consumer. This is especially applicable to home electrical appliances.
How many washing machine programs do you use on a regular basis?
Let’s face it with an example: a medium range washing machine includes an average of 20 programmes, but how many do you use on a regular basis? Two or three at the most? Although some are targeted to specific consumer groups (baby care for instance), most consumers do their laundry always on the same programme, at the same temperature.
Of course as a consumer it’s nice to have the options, just in case.
Considering that most consumers will never read an instruction manual – especially millennials and the post-millennial generations, who are used to the plug and play and user-friendly products – product managers should focus on features that are really adding value and not adding more specifications just to provide a product upgrade.
Usually product managers only think about the product and forget about the real customer needs in terms of problem solving. In a recent conversation with the product manager of a company in the small domestic appliances sector; he stated that although the company has a long history in the sector, being the first brand to launch the product category, they were not positioned in the consumers´ mind as the leading company in innovation in that particular product segment. It was really frustrating.
He confessed that the company had centred all its investments in product development but neglected the promotion. As a result, its products provide highly efficient solutions, are reliable, durable and innovative, but have a smaller market share than that of its competitors whose products´ features are of a lower profile. The difference is that their competitors developed an ok product but invested a lot in promotion, thus gaining better consumer recognition and brand awareness.
That raises the question: is your product good enough or is it too good for your market? It might be more efficient to launch a product with less features and to devote the resources to promotional activities. A great product, unless very disruptive, will not succeed unless consumers get to know about it.
In-store promotion, with product demonstration, is the best way to show consumers what the product can do for them.
Rosa Zaragoza is CPM Expertus Client Service Director, Consumer Electronics and Home Appliance specialist.