Creating and Measuring Communication, Effectively

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

We’re constantly looking for innovative ways translate data and information into interesting visualizations for our clients. There are many ways to accomplish this by using bar charts, gauges and graphs, but but I’ve recently found word clouds to be incredibly useful for analyzing text.

Wordle.net provides text-based visualizations, using content pasted from articles, blogs, questions from surveys and more, making the top, most prominently used words in the text the largest in the cloud.

For fun, I entered the URL of our blog into Wordle.

Wordle Word Cloud

The prominent words were: interesting, experience, customer, approach, OrangeBoy, work, time, meetings, process, and so on—all of which explain our mission to help our clients become customer-centric organizations.

This exercise was a reminder about branding and creating effective messaging. It was also a lesson in content analytics.

  • Messaging should align with your target audience, as well as your organization’s mission, brand and personality. I was relieved to know that this was the case with our blog. However, it’s not uncommon to see misalignment. Often I hear clients say, I want our customers to know about XYZ, but it doesn’t align with customers’ needs or their behavior. Communication should relate to the core of what you do as an organization while meeting the needs of your customers. A good example is a library sending targeted email messages about early literacy programs to parents with small children who use the library.
  • Use multiple visualizations to tell the whole story. The blog publisher WordPress has a dashboard tool that displays visitation statistics, views, clicks, and popular pages and topics. Amidst all of this “raw” usage data, there are no metrics to describe the blog’s personality or common message themes. The word cloud helped uncover that. By using Wordle, I was able to visualize the messages we send to our readers and understand commonly used words that describe our blog’s personality as it relates to our brand. In other words, multiple data visualizations resulted in a well-rounded story about messaging and its impact on behavior.

I encourage you to think about your messages and use analytics in a similar way. The next time you craft a message to your customers think about how it aligns with their needs and your organization’s brand and mission. Then, consider the best way to measure the impact of that message, effectively.

OrangeBoy works with organizations to uncover valuable insights about customers and the markets they serve. Insights lead to innovative solutions. OrangeBoy helps clients create personalized customer experiences and communications to achieve measurable results. 

Opting in to Consumer-Driven Strategy

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How Disney Changes the Theme Park Business

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

A new year brings new opportunities. For our clients, that means a new level of understanding of how consumers’ desires for convenience and personalization continually drive business strategy. A recent New York Times article about Disney’s new MyMagic+ technology is a perfect example of this.

mymagic

MyMagic+ utilizes radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology embedded in rubber bracelets (called MagicBands), which when worn by park visitors simplifies the daunting task of keeping track of paper tickets, fumbling with credit cards, and tracking room keys, while watching small children in a theme park. Customers (at their own discretion) can also encode personal data on the bands which park employees can access. This makes it possible for me or my sister to opt in and personalize my niece’s first visit to Walt Disney World where Minnie Mouse greets her saying, “Nice to meet you, Hailey!”

For a place that brings fairy tales to life, the adoption of MyMagic+ not only delivers convenience and personalization, but also brings Disney one step closer to its mission and brand promise to make “Dreams come true.”

As a consumer and business person, I can appreciate all of the possibilities. Sure, it raises the hot debate about collecting personal data, but it really is a win-win for both the customer and the organization. For instance, it not only enhances the customer experience leading to greater customer satisfaction, but also allows the organization to gain valuable insight into consumption habits to streamline processes and enhance productivity.

I believe 2013 is the year for both consumers and company leaders to truly embrace the opportunities that technology and data bring. There are numerous possibilities to satisfy our convenience-driven culture, and several ways our organizations and customers benefit—one of which is the option to opt out entirely.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2013

Photo from wired.com

Tips from the Obama Campaign to Make Data Work for You

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

Since the presidential election, discussions have been popping up on the Internet and in the media about how each candidate used data-driven campaigns to target voters. Many agree that Obama’s analytics were far more sophisticated than Romney’s.

I believe the success of the Obama campaign attributed to three simple rules. Apply these to make data work for you.

  1. Merge multiple sources of data. A single dataset consisting of all of your constituents (customers, donors, volunteers, etc.) linked to transactional data is a valuable asset. Data merged across departments and an entire organization can provide powerful insights about constituent relationships, needs, consumption behavior and other knowledge. Data crunchers for the Obama campaign amassed data (voter files, field data, consumer databases, and more) to form one “megafile.”
  2. Behavioral modeling. Using the variables from the “megafile,” the Obama campaign built complex behavioral models. The advantage: predictability and measurability. As Time Magazine reported, statistical models allowed the campaign to target voters efficiently and effectively, using data to determine how and where to reach voters–either by phone, knocking on doors, sending direct mail or social media. The campaign then processed polling and voter-contact data “66,000 times every night,” providing the campaign with instant results about Obama’s odds of winning swing states to help allocate campaign resources (also reported by Time).
  3. Retain data. Some organizations purge data on a regular basis, the Obama campaign did not. The campaign team quickly learned this was a benefit. Analysts discovered that people who had unsubscribed from the campaign’s 2008 e-mail lists were among the easiest to re-engage for support. It’s much easier to retain or re-engage past constituents than win new ones. (Sound familiar?) At some point, you’ll want feedback from customers who don’t (currently) use your products or services. Keep your data. You will want it someday.

We know that careful statistical analysis can provide remarkable precision and results. Follow the rules outlined above to get you started, and next time you have a data question just ask us. OrangeBoy has been helping clients gain customer insights from data for the past 16 years. We’re happy to help.

Leave us your comments or questions below.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012

The Root of the Problem

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

Earlier this week, my husband and I experienced our first real joy of home ownership. It was a typical Sunday (a.k.a. Chore Day)—and the washing machine was working overtime. I went downstairs to switch loads and to my surprise, found a large pool of water.

At first, I just stood there in disbelief. Then, I yelled for my husband, “Honey, we have a problem!”

After a brief investigation, we learned the water was coming from the basement floor drain—probably clogged with lint, or so we thought.

The next day, I called a plumber—Cory.  When Cory arrived, he surveyed the situation and came up with three possible problems. As he spoke, scenes from the movie Money Pit raced through my mind. Each scenario was progressively worse and more expensive than the last. He suggested using a snake and camera to find a more definitive cause to the problem.

A quick $200 later, Rusty the camera specialist pulled up to the house in his white Econoline van. He was carrying what looked like a mini flashlight attached to a giant spool of cable. Soon, Cory and Rusty were fishing the camera into the sewer line.

We anxiously watched the monitor and finally at the 60-foot marker, the ‘root’ of our problem revealed itself.  There, in its full glory on the screen, was a large mass of tree roots in the City’s sewer line.

With a definitive diagnosis, we are now on our way to resolving the problem.

The reason I tell you this story is because it reminds me so much of the conversations I have with others about my work as a business consultant. Moreover, it echoes some of the themes from a previous blog post. These are:

  • It’s OK to rely on the expertise of a professional. How many of us are plumbing experts? Sure, my husband and I could have tried some home remedies like Drano, but in this case, it wouldn’t have worked and the situation would’ve just gotten worse. Relying on a professional to help your organization is no different than relying on a professional in your personal life.
  • Sometimes the problem isn’t always obvious. Some problems require an investigation (like the plumbers using the camera to find the problem), but not all problems are as obvious as a giant root mass staring back at you on a screen. Consulting is a process. It starts with a diagnosis, followed by a treatment, and sometimes followed with another diagnosis and more treatment—just like visits to a doctor.
  • Rely on data rather than making assumptions. Would you tear up your basement floor or driveway to fix a plumbing problem without evidence telling you where to start? A little bit of research can go a long way. Not only can it help you understand the situation, but also point you in the right direction. The best benefit: data helps back up your claim. Using the video footage, my husband and I have approached the City to help resolve our problem.
  • Pay now or pay later.  Sometimes we have problems that lead to unplanned costs or the use of dollars allocated for something else. I would have rather bought a new iPhone 5 than spend $200 to scope sewer pipes, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, which brings me to my next point…
  • Seize the opportunity. If you are going to pay for it, you might as well get the most out of it. Each discovery brings opportunity. In this case, my husband and I learned a lot about the condition of the pipes in our 1928 home. This will help us make better decisions for future home improvements—just as OrangeBoy’s consulting services apply across multiple business functions.
  • You get what you pay for. When I searched online for a plumber, I didn’t look for the least expensive, I looked for the best. That is, I searched for those with the best reviews and most satisfied customers. Sure, it might cost more, but I want it done right the first time. Turns out, I was very satisfied with my experience.
  • We all have problems. Whether we like to admit this or not, at some point in time, you’ll have to hire a professional. It just happens.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012

What You Can Learn about Innovation from Apple

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

In recent news, Apple won a lawsuit against Samsung for infringing on its product patents—demonstrating the power and importance of innovation. Then again, this morning, Apple released the new iPhone 5 that sold out within an hour—proving, yet again, the power of innovation.

We hear stories about the importance of innovation all the time. Yet, the questions I hear most often from clients and prospective clients are, “I want to be like so and so” and “You work with other organizations similar to ours, what do they do to solve XYZ problem?”

My response is always, “Why do you want to be like someone else?”

Your organization, employees, customers and markets are all unique. Create processes that work to engage your customers. Create new products to fulfill your customers’ needs. Design solutions that fit your organizational goals, and above all else, don’t do something because someone or some other company has done it before.

As it turns out, emulating others will not get you very far.

It’s okay to aspire to be like other successful organizations and its leaders. We’d all like to have loyal customers like Apple. But Apple did not get where they are today by following. They got there by leading, taking risks and challenging the status quo.

Former Apple CEO Steve Job said in his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, “Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.”

Learn from Apple about the power of innovation.

Be creative. Be bold. Be original. And, as we say at OrangeBoy: Stop thinking in black and white. Think in color.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012

The Customer Journey

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

Harley Manning said it best in his recent Fast Company article calling the age we live in the “age of the customer.” I couldn’t agree more. Digital technology, access to real-time information and social media has empowered customers. Today, customers anticipate high levels of service, tailored experiences, and content that is relevant and fit to their needs. What’s more, 88% of American adults have mobile phones, and statistics for smart phones continue to climb—we’re only beginning to scratch the surface on how technology will change customers’ consumption of products, services and information.

So how can your organization keep customers engaged?

I’m sure you are familiar with the famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Well, that statement also applies to business. For your customer, it’s not about the transaction or sale (i.e. the destination). It’s the journey—the entire engagement or experience the customer has with your organization.

Think about the customer journey as a road trip—everything that takes place before, during and after you reach your destination. On road trips, you make several stops, take time to enjoy the scenery, and maybe even try a few new things along the way. Each stop is a touch point, the scenery is your brand, and new things are your organization’s services and products. Combined, each function contributes to a meaningful customer experience.

Let me take you on a customer journey to illustrate what I mean.

Let’s say you have a customer who receives a custom email letting him know that a product he regularly buys, but rarely goes on sale, is 15% off the regular price. (Thanks, Sales and Marketing!) Excited, he uses the Internet to make the purchase on your website. As he shops, he can easily navigate through the website and the shopping cart works wonderfully. (Cheers to the IT Department!) Finally, he makes it to the payment page to discover that your organization accepts multiple payment options, including credit cards and PayPal. So, with the click of a button, he finishes the transaction. (Nice job, Accounting!) After he makes his purchase, he receives the product on time, without damage. (Bravo to Logistics and Operations!) He then writes a grateful online review and the organization responds with a kind thank you note and small reward for his time. (Way to go Customer Service!)

The point is, organizations that fail to realize the importance of the entire journey, or focus only on the destination, miss an opportunity. The best way to keep customers engaged is to remember that it’s all about the customer and the ride. In the end, a great journey makes reaching the destination even better—and that’s what keeps your customers coming back.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012

Voodoo Doughnut and Branding

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

OrangeBoy President Sandy Swanson visited the Portland office this week. Wanting to share something uniquely Portland with her, I took her to Voodoo Doughnut, a Portland doughnut shop made famous by its odd flavor combinations and shapes. For example, the voodoo doll doughnut filled with red raspberry jelly and a pretzel stake through the chest; the Mango Tango doughnut filled with mango filling topped orange Tang; or my personal favorite, the Maple Bacon Bar with maple-flavored frosting topped with two strips of bacon.

Voodoo Doughnut truly embraces the culture of Portland and the City’s slogan: “Keep Portland Weird.” It is no wonder then that Portland named Voodoo Doughnut’s Portland Crème the official doughnut of the City in 2008.

The doughnuts have become so popular locally and nationally that it is common to see a constant stream of people (sometimes with long lines flowing outside the door), waiting to order doughnuts morning, noon or even in the middle of the night.

Talk about building a successful brand.

Pink boxes, doughnut-filled wooden coffins, and a ghoulish logo are just a few things that illustrate this one-of-a-kind brand. Beyond that, the experience is quirky (pink everywhere, coffin-shaped seating, and even a place to hold weddings), creating interest from the moment the customer walks in the door.

A successful brand and customer experience, such as the one created by Voodoo Doughnut, stems from the vision of the company’s leaders. Owners Tres and Cat Daddy recognized the need for a doughnut shop in Portland, so they set out to create one—one so unique that it would eventually reinvent the doughnut industry. Who ever thought that would be possible? (Just think about the last time you were at a grocery store. Did you see a cereal-covered doughnut? Well, that was because of Voodoo Doughnut.)

Great brands demonstrate to customers what a company does or can do better than any other company can. The overall experience and everything about the brand defines how a company delivers on that promise. Voodoo Doughnut, for example, promises customers, “Good things come in pink boxes.” Every time a customer opens a Voodoo Doughnut box, they can expect the same quality and good doughnuts. And, every time they walk in the door, they can expect the same quirky experience. I think any brand that delivers that level of consistency and drives awareness and loyalty like Voodoo Doughnut is a success. Check them out the next time you are in Portland.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012