Understanding and Commitment

First, we work with the client team to understand their specific needs, wants and desires. We then mutually agree upon and set budgets, timelines, personnel requirements, reporting processes and engagement parameters in order to comprehensively and concretely define the relationship.

Key deliverable(s) might include some of the following:

  • Define scope of engagement
  • Determine project budgets and timelines
  •  Define project deliverables
  • Assign and allocate resources, including client and agency team members
  • Clarify documenting and reporting procedures
  • Set success metrics and measurement
  • Collect all existing data, information, research, reports, documents and all brand related materials
  • Lead exploratory question and answer session(s)
  • Conduct brand orientation work session(s)
  • Communicate to all employees and other stakeholders the purpose, process and outcomes

Immersion and insight

At the outset of every project, we research and examine all relevant and appropriate aspects of the client’s current business and brand reality: a thorough and precise understanding of each of our client’s business practices, its culture, its competitors, its industry and its customers is essential to ensure the successful creation, repositioning or revitalization of their brand.

Define goals and explain how the information will be used. A common failure of brand research is a lack of clear, comprehensive and measurable goals. Given the strategic nature of the brand perceptual improvement process, key parts of a company must be involved in setting objectives for perception measurement and management. This helps to clarify the needs of various users of the information, creates a sense of ownership of the process and identifies how various levels of a company may have to cooperate to plan action.

Equally important is determining how the information will be used once it is developed. Careful analysis of strategic and tactical organizational applications will ensure that issues of design, sample, analysis, reporting and deployment are structured to provide customer-focused information that can be acted on most effectively.

Discover what is important to customers and employees. This discovery phase of data collection is intended to identify, in customers’ and employees’ own language, the attributes that compose their perceptions and expectations for quality and satisfaction. This information is gathered through various qualitative techniques, notably, in-depth interviews with senior managers and focus groups or on-site interviews with customers and customer-contact personnel.

This research should generate a comprehensive list of everything that customers and employees consider important. It is now necessary to use similar associative techniques, to group related or redundant attributes, and to agree on candidates for subsequent measurement as key drivers of satisfaction.

Measure Critical Needs. Measuring the relative importance of the attributes identified in qualitative discovery and a company’s competitive performance on those attributes is accomplished through critical needs assessment. This phase uses in-depth telephone, mail or personal interviews with a representative sample of customers, lost customers, and competitors’ customers to gather quantitative information. Using trade-off techniques, instead of traditional importance of attributes.

This phase should provide a broad array of actionable information. It should include the relative importance of key drivers of satisfaction; competitive performance on these critical attributes; site-specific performance, depending on sample size; cross-market segments with specific service needs; value-adding performance relative to expectations; and specific gaps between importance and performance.

Act on the Information. Action planning organizes activity to improve customer satisfaction by operationally defining and functionally deploying customer requirements. This makes it possible to establish cross-functional quality improvements teams. Using techniques such as quality function deployment, flowcharts, check sheets, Pareto charts, and cause-and-effect diagrams, teams can improve processes based in external customer needs, internal chains of customers, work-flow analysis, and work-process analysis.

Measure Performance over Time. Periodic measurements of how a company and its competitors perform on the key drivers of satisfaction reveals the rate at which customer satisfaction is improving or declining. Using the same sample criteria and interviewing techniques applied in critical-needs assessment, measurement should involve a brief interview on current performance and include an opportunity for open-ended comments. The frequency of measurements should be determined by market dynamics and should allow sufficient time for change to become measurable. Consideration also should be given to periodic qualitative monitoring to provide information on changes in environment.

Using the model describes in the preceding paragraph to improve and measure customer satisfaction requirements can greatly enhance existing total quality management and other quality improvement programs. It also can stand alone as a first step in focusing an organization on improved customer satisfaction as the key to improved market share and financial performance.

In either case, success ultimately is determined by the organization’s top-down commitment to meet and exceed the customers’ requirements in the marketplace. For example, knowing that customers want “quick service” is helpful; knowing that “quick service” means having their problems solved in less than 5 minutes is actionable.

Key deliverable(s) might include some of the following:

  • Initial hypothesis formation
  • Sources of relevant information
  • Exploratory research
  • Internal brand culture evaluation
  • Quantitative research
  • Qualitative and/or emersion research (external audiences)

Customers
Potential customers
Media & opinion leaders
Analysts
Financial institutions
Additional constituent groups (shareholders, vendors, etc.)

  • Academically rigorous ethnographic research
  • Constituency perceptual assessment and measurement
  • Behavioral market research
  • Attribute mapping
  • Trend analysis (macro > micro)
  • Competitive review
  • Industry segment research
  • Positioning assessment
  • Brand contact identification
  • Brand architecture review
  • Brand nomenclature assessment
  • Brand assessment/action report
  • Brand implementation planning