How Customer Service is Being Transformed by the Growth of Mobile Messaging
The world watched in astonishment a few weeks ago as a video surfaced of a United Airlines passenger being physically dragged from a plane after he refused to give up his seat on an over-booked flight. The airline’s initial response was almost as catastrophic a PR disaster as the actual event, going into detail on the policies and procedures, but showing none of the human compassion that all of us would expect from a brand that purports to care about its customers.
A few days ago, I was in a meeting where someone defended a decision to cut Voice of the Consumer research before new product ideation sessions, citing a 1985 Playboy interview with Steve Jobs. To paraphrase, Apple wasn’t going to do market research on the Mac because they were the best judges of what’s great and what’s not. Jobs later added, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
For many marketers, the failure rate for new product introductions hovers around two-thirds. The inclination to drop research because discovery is not yielding new information is understandable, but killing consumer research because it’s somewhat costly and time consuming, or worse because the team thinks it knows better than its customers, is a perilous strategy.
This past week, Hulu officially released the beta version of its live TV streaming product. It’s real, and it’s competitive. It enters the fray of many live TV streaming products that have either launched or have been announced, including Sony Playstation Vue, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Dish’s Sling TV, Xfinity Instant TV, and YouTube TV. Each of these products offers compelling features at price points lower than traditional Pay TV (satellite, telcos such as Verizon, and cable companies such as Charter Spectrum)—with some like AT&T, Comcast and Dish even cannibalizing their own Pay TV revenues with live TV streaming products.
For these new forms of video offerings to successfully gain customer buy-in and subsequent profitability, they can’t offer everything at rock-bottom prices, at least not forever. Programming costs remain high, even when leveraged with long-standing agreements, and finding the right niche varies not only by platform, but by provider as well.
Fact-Based Trends From Cogent Reports™
Plan sponsors are increasingly looking for ways to encourage employee engagement with the 401(k) plan. This year two trends are rising to the top. Compared with previous years, more plans are providing employer matching contributions, thus providing an immediate incentive for participants who actively contribute to the plan. In addition, a relatively new trend shows nearly four in ten employers are considering a financial wellness program to help employees address more immediate financial priorities. In fact, the interest in financial wellness programs far outweighs interest in automatic plan features that are more narrowly focused on retirement accumulation as the end goal.
Overall, just 16% of plan sponsors currently offer a financial wellness program for their employees. But importantly, nearly four in ten (38%) say they are likely to consider adding such a program in the future. A view by plan size reveals that the larger employers are leading the charge, as more than one-third (36%) of Large-Mega plans currently offer a financial wellness program. Yet interest in adding a financial wellness program is relatively strong and consistent across plan size segments, with 37% of Micro plans, 43% of Small-Mid plans and 44% of Large-Mega plans open to considering this level of assistance for their employees. These findings suggest that the opportunity to strengthen client relationships is greatest for providers and advisors who think holistically about the financial health and security of the employees they serve. Continue reading
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Asset managers trying to get the attention of institutional investors must go beyond the typical marketing plan. Getting the attention of institutional investors takes place on a completely different playing field.
In contrast to financial advisors, institutional investors are not being bombarded with as many marketing materials, so in theory getting their attention should be easier. However, institutional investors’ marketing consumption behavior is generally confined to the asset managers they are already doing business with or potential managers they are considering when conducting an RFP. This demands an entirely different element of strategy for asset managers when creating their marketing plan, as the challenge for unknown firms to break through to this audience is incredibly difficult.
- “If I don’t recognize the brand or the name … then I probably wouldn’t even look twice at it.” Benefits Director, $750M DC/DB, NYC
- “I don’t get that much to be honest with you, but I don’t really look at things from providers that we’re not using.” CFO, $20M Endowment, NYC
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As technology becomes a bigger part of how financial advisors do their job, the need for external wholesalers is diminishing—at least in the traditional sense. To stay ahead of this trend, asset managers need to evaluate how well their current sales and marketing strategies meet the needs of advisors, as well as ways to leverage technology and tweak their distribution strategy to ride this impending wave of change.
Key things asset managers need to know:
- Advisors have less time. Advisors are taking on more responsibility, enduring higher levels of scrutiny regarding how they service customers and utilizing more tools to help facilitate how they do their job. These factors have pushed a full 25% of advisors to decrease the number of wholesaler meetings that they accept. This presents the first challenge: In-person meetings have historically been a very important part of forging and maintaining strong relationships with advisors, so how do asset managers dial down the personal side of selling without putting the stability of the relationship at risk?
- Technology is leading the way. You hear and read it everywhere. Email is the most effective and most desired form of communication, but the obvious issue is how to stand out among the hundreds of emails that land in the advisor’s mailbox. The second challenge: Email only works if the recipient is already engaged or open to being engaged. Adding another layer, if you are going to rely on email you better be sure the advisor you are trying to connect with actually prefers email. There is a whole subset that prefers social media to email. You can see in this article and video that email is not the way to engage these advisors.
The Role of the Patient-Physician Relationship in Marketing Healthcare
Many of our health system clients have begun to investigate more deeply the patient-physician relationship—a relationship that is complicated, multi-faceted and, for many, vitally important. For example, we’ve uncovered information people rely on when selecting a new provider, the most appealing characteristics of a physician’s practice and aspects of the patient-physician encounter that matter most. These studies are important given an employed primary care provider’s critical role in referring patients to a health system’s specialty care, leveraging the power of a system’s EMR capabilities and improving employed providers’ HCAHPS scores.
Technology is disrupting the insurance industry, including the claims arena, from new claims management systems and mobile apps that enable consumers to submit loss reports to a remote adjuster to the use of drones to efficiently gather structure damage data. But are the benefits all one-sided or do customers perceive value in these innovations, too?
As Randall Hula noted in Forging a Clear PATH to Corporate Innovation, it is critical to involve the right types of consumers at the right points along the Innovation Journey. Instead of simply focusing on your Target Consumer, it is important to recognize how other types of consumers—Lead Users, Creatives, Early Adopters and Brand Advocates—can contribute to and strengthen the innovation process.
These different consumer research groups form naturally around shared traits and preferences, the exact kind of commonalities that can spell gold for marketers—and market researchers. But the keys to tapping into their potential lie in understanding and identifying members of each group and knowing when exactly in the Innovation Journey they can contribute most.
Last month, YouTube TV rolled out its “streaming TV” service in five major US cities. Just before that, Comcast and Hulu announced their “streaming TV” services to join an increasingly crowded marketplace with industry heavyweights like AT&T (DirecTV Now), Dish (Sling TV) and Sony (PlayStation Vue). Despite the hype and the big brand names, success isn’t guaranteed for any of these services.
All of these new product offerings are essentially taking the traditional pay TV model that has been around for decades and making it available via the internet at a lower cost than their traditional TV counterparts. For the most part, reactions to these services have been mixed at best, which begs the question: Why aren’t these services knocking it out of the park?