Your call (isn’t) important to us and will(not) be attended to shortly!

Customer journey. Customer experience. Customer expectation.Customer delight. Customer service. All old wine in new bottles but as should have naturally been the case, things have not matured with age. On the contrary, getting genuine attention(just like paying attention) in an attention starved economy is becoming increasingly difficult and going from bad to worse.
As ordinary mortals, often times we have to deal with banks, financial services, utility companies, car rental brands etc. And we reluctantly take a call on making a call to the epicentre of under delivery– the omni present but care absent  ‘ call centre ‘.
Technology has made rapid strides and from a security perspective ‘ voice recognition ‘ is the harbinger of hope( or so we hoped) for customers expecting to avoid the seven and a half minute hold listening to tastelessly chosen recorded music. And you thought your voice will be heard– tough luck- once you are past that process, you go back in time(yes, literally) and field the 5 security questions to ensure that you are who you are and you are not from a different mother as originally envisaged. And you are left wondering why was the voice recognition used in the first place if the process was to lead to further questioning and endless hold. A lot of questions and certainly no convincing answers.
Pardon my sequencing here- I overlooked to mention the two biggest lies floating around that brands have been propagating blatantly, namely:-
– Your call is important to us and will be attended to shortly
 
– This call maybe recorded for quality and assurance purposes
I say these are the biggest lies for a couple of reasons:
– When was the last time you actually found a call centre personnel sufficiently empowered to resolve your problem? Even if your imagination runs riot, you will be chasing a mirage only.
– On multiple occasions we have put forth our suggestions, frustrations etc on these ‘ recorded for quality & assurance purposes ‘ calls and the customer experience slide has only degenerated further south. Maybe it was ‘ just for the record ‘.
– Have you ever received from a ‘ Relationship Manager ‘ of your bank based in a distant call centre(who is clueless about where you are based) on a Friday afternoon when you have just settled into your afternoon weekend siesta? I have, many times over. This after copious amount of information has been shared to them in the KYC(Know Your Customer!). It should be more like NO, YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER!
– Have you received calls from an over enthusiastic telecom provider calling you three times in a day(atleast) to ask you for payment(which falls due two weeks hence)? I have. It leaves you wondering ‘ Do(I let phonetics play its part here in let you deciphering who) they have to do that? ‘
Of course there are exceptions and we have heard about the experiences that the likes of Zappos etc provide to their customers that is now part of folklore. But all that seem to be happening on a different planet.
A caveat here before you may misinterpret my vitriol: I don’t belong to that tribe who echoes the sentiment ‘ The customer is always right ‘- its certainly not the case.
The sanctum mantra that brand owners, marketing heads and guardians have been acting on endlessly has been ‘ call to action ‘. But, when the shoe is on the other foot, it seems more like a ‘ call to inaction ‘. And you just can’t seem to shoe that away!
ENDS
 
www.brandknewmag.com
 
www.groupisd.com/story
Image:userlike.com

POVer Shift:From POV(Point of View) to POV( Power of Vulnerability)

Moving the Needle from From POV(Point of View) to POV(Power of Vulnerability)!
In today’s context, to say that social( in the sense of the term social media) has gained significant currency would be a gross understatement.It’s all pervasive, inescapable and deep rooted, one can safely assume.
Once upon a time the theory(espoused by Kevin Bacon) that was floating around was about ‘ The Six Degrees of Separation ‘ where one individual could connect with any other individual in the world irrespective of level, status or complexity through a chain of six human connections. That seemed a feat in itself. The advent of social media networks like Facebook apparently brought that number down to 3.57.
Now add another theory to the above. We are the average of the five people that we spend maximum time with is what we are being given to understand for some time now.That was in a physical world. Now, move that to a virtual scenario wherein our social media contacts run into hundreds if not thousands of connections and we are all observing, contributing, silently following one another and not always for the right reason because the swell of opinions and information is just too over powering for one individual to withstand. Distilling the wheat from the chaff is easier said than done. There is ‘ status anxiety ‘. There is the FOMO at play(Fear of Missing Out) as well. In the relentless avalanche that straddles social media platforms, where is the real ‘ you ‘, the individual? Is your POV(Point of View) actually your point of view? Or conditioned(by AI/Machine Learning etc), pulverised, calibrated, engineered, manipulated to suitably conform, comply, stand in? Or are we falling constant prey to the supposed ‘ wisdom of the crowds ‘?
Have we moved our butt so much from but naturally to bot artificially?
We seem to be in a sordid vortex of an ‘ authenticity drought ‘. Trying to project a chimera that is certainly not a wilful representation of our true self. The power of ‘ onlyness ‘ that creates the distinct individuality the world so badly needs from you is just a fleeting mirage.
Given the context, a huge opportunity looms large. That is embedded in another similar acronym POV but with a radically different meaning. Power of Vulnerability. The true you, with all it’s mortal encumbrances. With the courage ‘to stand naked in your own truth’. No excess baggage of trying to be whom you are not. The YOU that only you can be and WANT to be.Where failings and weaknesses are welcomed as normal just as all the super Machiavellian in us. Where the human is permitted and motivated to be humane. Can we circle back to leverage the opportunity that is unfolding?
For organisations, brands, marketers, behavioural economists and all of those involved in ‘ social listening ‘, data science and analytics, what option would you prefer? An ambiguous amalgam of over, untrue or misrepresentation or a predictably irrational version of what we humans normally are. The jury is out!
Tribe mentality‘ is absolutely fine. That is the way we have evolved over the centuries.  But don’t let that scuttle the ‘ onlyness ‘ in you. As you move ahead in life, don’t forget to take yourself along with you in the journey! That is the only baggage you may need. And there won’t be anything ‘ excess ‘ about it. It will be all ‘ access ‘.
ENDS
 
www.groupisd.com/story
 
www.brandknewmag.com

The Big Trap for Brands: A Sea of Sameness!

The Big Trap for Brands: A Sea of Sameness
Normal needs a new normalising!
Since there is so much interest, let me start from the bottom line. It is no coincidence that damn near everything that you and me buy or want to buy, seems to have a label ‘ Made in China ‘. Now, that includes airplane wings …as well as caps!
Instant knock offs-with excellence- have become the norm. From shoes to sweaters to computers to restaurants. The quality of damn near everything is terrific. Things that work well are not unusual. Things that don’t work are unusual.
By design or accident, we are afloat, awash, adrift…in a Sea of Sameness. High-quality sameness, but sameness nonethless.
An idea that has legs ..lasts only a few weeks, a few months at best. Then the sequel. And the sequel that follows the sequel. And so on.
Sure heard this before. Herd mentality. We race around. Follow each other’s tails. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue to Jamal Abdul Nasar Street.
As Swedish business professors  Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale brilliantly articulated in their book ‘ Funky Business ‘, ” The surplus society has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people, with almost similar educational backgrounds..coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar prices..and similar qualities “. Ouch, that is painful!
The 10X/10X theory on that is that you could be 10 times better. While being ten times less different.
The basic idea that I am echoing here is that ‘ Good Stuff ‘ is commonplace.”



“. It’s no longer exceptional for stuff (anything, everything ) to work. Which means the bar for ” standing out ” has risen dramatically.

In a winner takes all world, Normal = Nothing. So time to stop being goddamn normal.
Dovetailing seamlessly into this line of thought is the Danish marketing phenomenon Jesper Kunde’s articulation ” Companies have defined so much best practice that they are now more or less identical. ” It’s commoditised. Instead, how about ” It’s yet to be practiced “?
In other words, the only way to make a difference is to, well, “ Make a Difference “.
Standing out in a world where most everything works is stupefying difficult. And yet some companies are making a go of it. How I hate the word ‘ normal ‘.
We are in a ” Don’t just sit there economy ” – so, embrace abnormal. Never mind if you are first mover, last mover, first follower or fast follower. Go for it!
ENDS
www.groupisd.com/story
 
www.brandknewmag.com

Does the world need another ad agency?

“The world doesn’t need another ad agency.”
 
Dear Brand Owners & Marketers

It’s amazing how a single tap on the space bar can make such a difference.

Another” is one of those odd English words that have multiple and contradictory meanings. One definition is “being one more in addition to one or more of the same kind,” like having another car payment or eating another piece of pizza (two more things none of us likely need).

But “another” also means “different or distinct from the one first considered.” That puts an entirely different spin on things, and putting a space between the letters underscores the point.

The world rarely needs “another,” but it will always welcome “an other” — particularly in the most mature, crowded and commoditized industries, where sameness leads to staleness.

Time after time, another product or service gets superseded by an other product or service, making our lives more pleasant, more efficient, more productive, or better in a host of additional ways.

Seeking “an other” is a good strategy to keep pace with the inexorable march of creative destruction. In the marketplace, what is, will not always be, and what is to come, has not always been. The task of strategists is to be agents of creation rather than victims of destruction. Our challenge is to pursue the new and unproven even as we preserve the existing and profitable.

Unless you can ensure your company, brand or service is continually and legitimately “an other,” it’ll end up becoming just “another.”

We are tribal by nature. Human beings have evolved in that fashion. Therefore the ‘ herd mentality ‘. Yes, we have heard that before. And this as well. Birds of the same feather. Flocking together. Which leads to the SOS factor: Sea of Sameness. What makes you distinct? What makes you unique? There is comfort in fellowship. There is comfort in companionship. But, the real magic happens outside the comfort zone.

Are you up to the challenge/opportunity?  We at ISD Global(https://bit.ly/2riIk7l)  are and looking forward to it.

Ends

www.groupisd.com/story

www.brandknewmag.com

 

Wanting to go from Rant to Rave…

Wanting to go from Rant ​to Rave…
The saga continues. The desperation is palpable. Because, unless it becomes an obsession, status quo is a convenient getaway. So, if you want to come out of the present rabbit hole, let’s look at a scenario of what was and what should be. It surely is a study in contrast for brands and businesses and the CEOs, CMOs leading them and wanting to Stay Relevant. Forge ahead. Survive. Thrive.
Go from ‘ Be ahead of the pack ‘ to ‘ Be ahead of the curve
​Change thinking from ‘ Get big fast ‘ to ‘ Get a clue
Move on from ‘ Size will defend us ‘ to ‘ Size is no defense
Migrate from ‘ Sales to the usual suspects ‘ to ‘ Sales to unusual prospects
Shift from ‘ Maximise revenues from a few big customers ‘ to Maximise ‘innovation ‘ by seeking out ‘ strange ‘ small customers
​Go away from ‘ Benchmarking against ‘ industry leaders ‘ to ‘ Benchmarking against leading edge firms
Change from ‘ Strategic suppliers ‘ to ‘ Fringe suppliers
Shift search from ‘ Reliable employees ‘ to ‘ Rambunctious employees ‘
Hire the gal(guy) from a prestigious school ‘ to ‘ Hire the gal(guy) with a freaky portfolio ‘
Actively move from ‘ Passive board of directors ‘ to a ‘ Pushy board of directors ‘
Change culture of ‘ Bulk acquisitions ‘ to ‘ Buying innovation
A value chain from ‘ Safety first partners ‘ to ‘ Risk ready partners
From ‘ Playing it safe ‘ to ‘ Playing it Weird
Delete the mantra ‘ Cover all the bases ‘ and establish ‘ Burn all the ships ‘
Though not always with a high degree of success, we at ISD Global(https://bit.ly/2Bx33Kj) try to practice the above preaching. We have realised that this kind of thinking comes more naturally to us and sits comfortably in our hearts and minds. Probably, we now don’t know any other way. That ignorance is bliss. Come join the weird. Wired for the unexpected.
ENDS
www.brandknewmag.com
www.groupisd.com/story

If CeX(Customer Experience) is the future,why are brands missing out?

“The best way to find your self is to lose your self in the service of others”- Mahatma Gandhi.

How often have we heard all of these statements below especially in the recent past?
Experience is the new brand.
Experiences are the new branding.
The Future is Experience.
Brands will be all about CeX(Customer Experience).
CeX(Customer Experience) is the flavour of the season and beyond and will be for a long long time to come, especially in the context of a hyper cluttered, over commoditised, always on world.The world is migrating from a culture of ‘ ownership ‘ to a movement of ‘ experiences ‘. All of this is stating the obvious but then many a brand seem to overlook this with gay abandon.
A lot of us would have experienced hotel brands during our travels either for business or pleasure.Top of the draw 5 and 4 star properties from the leading hotel brands in the world. How many of us(especially the middle aged with presbyopia staring at us in the eye) have gone in for a shower and struggled to read the writing on the tiny bottles of shampoo or shower gel or body lotion. You take the risk only to realise that the body lotion is fighting desperately for your scalp’s attention only for it to be given the slip. That there is lather in your eyes doesn’t help your cause. What stops the hotel brands from labelling these bottles in big, bold, readable fonts to distinguish one from the other. Lather sorry rather myopic, isn’t it? Especially considering Gen X and Baby boomers still contribute substantially to the hospitality industry’s coffers. About time some prudence showered down. Should we stay different?
Cutting edge technology is supposed to be at the forefront of banking services, especially in their quest for simply better banking that drives customer delight. And this customer is the one calling to find out the outstanding due on her credit card to ensure the payment(and the full bill at that) is made on time. How remiss of you- you are not a ‘ prized customer ‘ for the bank as you are not earning them either late fee or interest. Nor giving their pre decided script driven coveted call centre staff to act one (or even two) up on you.With all the preamble of voice recognition, telephone pin , IVR etc you expect a request such as finding the balance should be a matter of a few seconds. Don’t be surprised, a recent call made history with 18 plus minutes of conversation.Yes, it’s just seconds only, but all 1080 of it. We are told that these calls are monitored for quality and assurance purposes. That’s so reassuring, but, we are still waiting. Because they insist our call is important to them. Simply better anyone?
For all those who have been at the receiving end(pardon the pun) of service from the courier industry. The all important document can only be received by you upon identification etc. That’s all very well as they are taking the right precautions to ensure the receiver is genuine and can authenticate her identity. Perfectly acceptable. So, when you get the call, you ask the courier company what time would the document be delivered and the ‘ comforting ‘ response is ‘ anytime between 9 am and 6 pm ‘. Wow, phenomenal, you just wait until kingdom come(or the delivery staff) and give up on everything else you are doing that day. Upon your request, a note of the specific time is made on their ‘ system ‘, only for you to realise that the delivery man turned up exactly at the time you were not in. Doesn’t all this make you Fed Up?
No, normally you don’t have less than ten items at the hypermarket especially on the weekend. So, you damn well be in the ‘ cattle class ‘ line. After touring several aisle of Man(and Woman) in the store, and picking up both wanted (and unwanted) items, you get ready to take on the serpentine lines and tread heavily to the front of the check out when the inevitable happens: you guessed right, the bar code on one of the packets(wanted item) you have picked up don’t scan, nor is it readable enough to be typed in manually. Frantic call to a help(if he or she is around) to verify the pricing is met with condescending glares and eventually you decide to let go of that item of purchase. Sure we are getting hyper about it but isn’t it time these hypermarket brands read the customer frustration code and raised the bar?
I will leave the baggage carousel at airports for another time where for the airlines it seems to be all about first come, last served. We all are a sucker for good experiences and waiting with bated breath to share it when you are the fortunate one. Brands should be looking at making the most of it.
There is a great opportunity for brands to differentiate, distinguish, delight. Till then, we want to believe our fall sorry call is important to them…
ENDS

Is the 30-second ad dying?

The death of an advertising stalwart!

Well it surely appears so. And Silicon Valley is killing it.The rise of social media has made the elaborate plot lines of old-school spots seem archaic. And the Mad Men are, well, mad.Or, so was the fad!

Trapeze back to the days of the 30 second long format ads(long by today’s standards) where marketers, brand owners, agency heads, creative directors, art directors and film makers peddled a basketful of promise, creative thought and motivation to influence the seemingly reachable TG in their quest to change behaviours, cultures and consumption patterns. There was a certain trance in that romance to create.

So what is prompting the change? In an always on land of uncertainty, are we losing the plot(and losing the audience) or has the landscape itself changed?

6 is the new 30

They say 20 is the new 40 when it comes to audience maturity and demographics. Platforms like YouTube have increasingly challenged agencies to tell their stories in a 6-second slot — the average attention span of today’s mobile user. That mobile user, who again by conventional paradigm, is on a perennial instant fatigue. So 30 seconds is a long journey to risk with them!  6 has indeed become the new 30. And numbers don’t lie!

It makes sense. You might be willing to sit through a 3-minute trailer before a movie, or a 30-second “Whassup” ad before an episode of Jimmy Fallon.That may come across as non intrusive or no skin of your backBut amidst the native content of notoriously short-form channels like Instagram or Snapchat, these types of ads are disproportionately long. So much so, that they may pre qualify to be spam! Just kidding.

And for all those who are number crunchers: if we had a nickel for every 60-second YouTube video we gave up on because of an unskippable 30-second ad, we’d be at least $1.25 richer. What will you do for a few dollars more?

“Creativity is dead.” — Old School Advertisers

That almost seems like an Old Jungle saying(remember Phantom is rough with roughnecks!!!).

Ad execs counter that cutting time means sacrificing emotional stakes and story arc for the sake of speed, effectively prioritizing watchability over effectiveness.

Another, not-so-secret motive: it’s harder to get paid proportionally for the production of super-short ads, which still require actors and equipment.The CFO and CMO lines have been blurring and the motive should not surprise us.

Hey, we love Ogilvy as much as the next ad geek. But as the father of mass mediaMarshall McLuhan, put it back in the ‘60s: “The medium is the message.” Yes, we now surely get the message.

And today’s medium is 6-second Snap Stories. And it has to be over in a snap. Otherwise today’s audience will snap out of it.So the mean median for a message is all coming down to 6 in the City(and beyond).

So, Lights, Camera….do we have the time to say Action?

ENDS

www.groupisd.com

www.brandknewmag.com

Image: Digitalvidya

Design Thinking for Brands: Making a case for Analogous Inspiration

We are all well aware of the deficit surplus trade equation. In this over connected, hyper commoditised, always on world, we face a surplus of information, goods, services and a deficit on the other hand of time, resources, attention. Marketers and brand owners are in a constant state of beta to address this ever widening chasm.
 
When brand owners are defining new products and services across healthcare to hospitality, or shaping stories to draw tighter connections to relevant audiences, it would be worthwhile to tap into a network of inspiration to cultivate responses to a range of design challengesFrom a point of shared understanding of a design challenge, we begin to set the stage to design something that has impact.
 
Empathy, observation & openness are the pillars on which design thinking thrives and creates meaning and relevance for brands wanting to make people’s lives betterWhat’s critical therefore, as we are all aware, in designing amazing things is to start with people.
While each design challenge might require a different set of expertise, a healthy mix of backgrounds and perspectives helps us strike a better balance in designing what’s desirable, what’s feasible and what’s viable.
 
To spark new ways of thinking about a challenge, we also turn to what we call “analogous inspiration.” Which is all about identifying and observing experiences that are not directly related to the industry that is being designed for, yet have a relatable aspect. For example, a team designing for the operating room for a healthcare brand decided to observe a pit crew at a race track. High stress, quick judgment, and timely action characterise both situations, yet the “outside” context of car racing provided fresh insights that the team at healthcare would not have been exposed to had they only researched other healthcare moments. Such catalysing methods are less about getting a full-picture approach and more about getting inspired to design something that’s game-changing.

So, the next time you are developing or enhancing a product,it would be worthwhile to look beyond the ‘ walled garden ‘ that defines/chains your industry for some analogous inspiration. For that idea or product of yours to become truly beyond compare.

ENDS
 
www.brandknewmag.com
 
www.groupisd.com

Emotions that have no speed limit when it comes to virality !

Rage seems to be in Rage when it comes to emotions traveling the farthest and fastest across Social Media networks.
The omnipresence of social media, the glut of messaging and content distribution platforms, the sophistication of social listening, combined with readily available news(breaking and broken) and events round the clock, the Damocles Sword hanging on people’s head called ‘ status anxiety ‘, the perennial quest for the next and best viral; all provide the perfect foil for brands and marketers to understand what kind of emotions travel the quickest on social networks and strategise what to ‘avoid‘ and what to ‘adopt‘.

If one were to go granular with the emotions’ basket, we would have the following and more in the bucket list:Happiness/Joy; Sadness/Depression; Rage/Anger; Pride/Prejudice; Disgust/Disillusionment; Wonder/Awe and so on and so forth.

Researchers at the Beihang University in China gauged various online emotions by tracking emoticons embedded in millions of messages posted on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging platform. Their conclusion: Joy moves faster than sadness or disgust, but nothing is speedier than rage. The researchers found that users reacted most angrily—and quickly—to reports concerning “social problems and diplomatic issues”. It’s diabolical that a strong anti social emotion like rage gets the maximum social attention and currency!!!

In many cases, these ‘ social flare ups ‘ triggers a chain reaction of anger with multiple circles of the social community getting influenced and participating with equal or more venom.

In another study conducted by Jonah Berger and a colleague at Wharton based on 7000 articles covered by The New York Times, they discovered that if there was one emotion that overtook rage in billings, it was awe. The wonder and excitement of a new discovery of beauty or knowledge or a breakthrough in the fight against cancer; puts awe as an emotion in overdrive thus heaping bagfuls of viral.“Awe gets our hearts racing and our blood pumping,” Berger says. “This increases our desire for emotional connection and drives us to share.”

For all those who thought that sadness would emerge triumphant in the race to viral stardom, sorry to disappoint you. Sadness was considered to be a ‘ deactivating emotion ‘ where people pull down or withdraw leaving it with little torque to go the distance. If you feel a little melancholic about it, let that stay.

​So, the next time you see or experience road rage​, talk yourself into believing that it need not be infectious(or go viral).

​ENDS​

​groupisd.com

brandknewmag.com​