helping you master customer insight leadership

18 Minutes a day to revolutionise your Year

18 MinutesTalking with Customer Insight Leaders whilst coaching, training and consulting, I find many if not most struggle with prioritization & time management. Perhaps this is not all that surprising given both the greater demand for insight in many businesses and the breadth of this leadership role.

From chatting to some of you, it sounds like it may also be a reason why you struggle to protect time for leadership development (one of your intended priorities for 2015).

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Building a great Platform for your message

3D-Platform-Cover-For-Product-PageHope you’ve had a relaxing Easter holiday and been enjoying the improved Spring weather (at least here in Wales). During this welcome break, I’ve finished reading a very helpful book on use of social media, “Platform” by Michael Hyatt.

I first came across Michael online, as a prolific blogger and social media voice on intentional leadership. The wider advice he shares on his own blog is worth mentioning here, for the leadership focus of this blog.

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Is your heart aroused at work?

The Heart ArousedThis may sounds like a strange, perhaps slightly dodgy title for this site. Don’t worry, despite the recent focus on Fifty Shades of Grey & another type of arousing fiction, this is actually a book sharing what poetry can teach us about how to survive the workplace.

It’s subtitle is much clearer – “Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul at Work“.

Before that too threatens to put you off reading further, let me explain why I think this is relevant to all readers.

This is not a theoretical book or one for poetry buffs. Rather, through the metaphors & stories used in a number of classic poems/epics, the author explores struggles to which we can all relate. These include finding your own voice in work, the struggle to be authentic, coping with power, retaining creativity and how to maintain motivation when it all feels like dust. (more…)

How to play to your strengths this year

StrengthsFinder-2.0This book is more of a resource toolkit than a narrative read, but it is one that I’ve found useful for my own development & when coaching clients.

It’s a book for which you’ll want your own copy, not just because you want to make notes & complete the cover with your top 5 strengths, but also because each book has a unique code for you to use to complete an online ‘strengths finder’  test.

That test is grounded in the Positive Psychology movement and in fact this pocket-sized book is dedicated to the ‘father of strengths psychology’ Dr Donald Clifton. The first 30 pages of the book explains the benefits of focussing on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. I have seen this in true with many coaching clients. Too many leaders in business are encouraged to flagellate themselves about perceived weaknesses or have to focus on developing areas where they don’t have natural strengths.

This can be self-defeating for two reasons: first, it often fails – you are asking the person to ‘swim upstream’ against their natural personality which is rarely sustainable; second, that it means people assume they have to be like others in the organisation & so often neglect playing to their natural strengths where they could really excel. (more…)

How to be intentionally Happier, a book to help

Happier

The sub-title of this book is “Can you learn to be happy?” and this question is explored through a series of short chapters summarising the most popular course at Harvard today.

This might seem a strange topic for this blog, but my coaching work with customer insight leaders has taught me the power of Positive Psychology. It is also a short (168 pages) book, fun and very accessible; so a good compliment to some of the weightier tomes that I’ve reviewed here. (more…)

How to better measure your Marketing Payback

Marketing PaybackBack in 2005, when this was published, I was in the right job at the right time, so as to get a free copy. However, having since read and valued this important work, I would now happily of bought copies for myself and my team.

Professor Robert Shaw is one of the early gurus of applying analytics to marketing. In this text he steps the reader through how to both make your marketing profitable and prove that ROI to the rest of your business (especially Finance).

In fact this usefully comprehensive and practical guide is equally relevant to a Marketing, Finance of Customer Insight audience. However, in my experience, Customer Insight (or Database Marketing) are best placed to bridge the gap between these two disciplines. (more…)

Redesigning Customer Experiences from the Outside In

Outside InThis book has a dull cover and lacks any colour graphics within its pages. So, if you spot it, you might not be enthused. However, persistence is rewarded, as there is much customer experience and customer insight leaders can learn from this book.

Written by a couple of leaders at Forrester Research, it provides the reader with an overview of everything to consider in order to improve customer experiences. As anyone who has worked in this area will know, that’s a tall order.

Peppers & Rodgers “Managing Customer Relationships” is usefully comprehensive but at 481 pages not a quick read. So, to provide this overview in only 224 pages is an achievement for Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine.

As I worked my way through this book, two things became the major benefits. The first is a set of frameworks to act as guides or checklists for action needed in different areas. First up is their definition of a Customer Experience Ecosystem Map, a useful term for ensuring you consider not just processes but also people, perspectives, culture, etc. Another is the structure of identifying six essential customer experience disciplines each with their own required practices (strategy, customer understanding, design, measurement, governance and culture). This risks “motherhood and apple pie”, but provides some sensible customer insight advice especially on measurement.

The other major benefit of this book is a large number of  case studies contained within it, as examples of frameworks being put into practice. Given my background and clients within the Insurance industry, it was good to see 5 of these alongside the many other sectors covered. Their analysis of the threats to Allstate in the US and opportunities for Progressive is interesting and backed up by Customer Experience Index scores to date. Aviva’s focus on mapping customer journeys in China is also interesting, with the chance in emerging markets to start with customer experience strategy at an earlier stage.

Given I will be speaking at a conference in London next month, on the role of Customer Insight leaders in more senior positions than ever before, their chapter on ‘The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer’ is also interesting. Their research in US echoes my own experience in the UK, that CCOs (or CKOs – as I am more interested in customer insight leaders) are disproportionately common within Financial Services firms. Their findings about a bias toward COOs for B2B businesses also makes commercial sense.

I hope that review was useful, I share such a book because I believe the only point of generating customer insights is to act on them. This can sometimes be to deliver shorter term commercial returns, but longer term the real prize is for customer insight to be guiding the transformative work outlined in this book. Delivering and then sustaining significantly improved customer experiences,

This book is a relatively easy read, although at times resembling someone who talks too quickly at you. The volume of human interest stories included helps, as does the use of short chapters. Bite sized chunks for reading each day, is one way to look at them. I hope you find it useful.

Please do share your experience if you’ve read this work or alternatives.