Posts Tagged ‘Customer Experience’

145 Years Young: Digital Innovation at The Met

June 17, 2015

In 1967, IBM founder Thomas J. Watson approached The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a then unheard of offer… to donate computers to the Museum. The Met declined. Ironically, one particular curator doubted that a computer would be a “time-saving device.”

This resistance to joining the technology-driven world may now seem as dated as a piece from the Met’s Ancient collection, given that 2011 marked the year the Met lifted its cell phone ban and redesigned its website for optimal viewing on smartphone screens. And in 2013, the Museum’s first-ever Chief Digital Officer, Sree Sreenivasan, was brought on board to digitally transform the museum experience.

Art and technology have long been bedfellows—from Michelangelo with his chisel and hammer to Ryan TrecartinSree Sreenivasan at BRITE'15 with his mixed-media video installations. Speaking at the BRITE ’15 conference, Sreenivasan, who is also formerly Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer, noted, “Any art you see today is because the artist used the right technology at the right time—the right canvas, the right marble, the right tools.”

Sreenivasan understands firsthand the challenges of keeping pace with a rapidly evolving digital world, particularly at renowned institutions with such historical significance. At BRITE ’15, Sreenivasan shared insights from digital, mobile and social lessons learned during his tenure with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He explained that a consistent strategy across mobile and social media platforms, like the one employed by the Met, is pivotal to staying relevant and continuing to meet consumers’ day-to-day desires in this age of constant change and innovation.

It’s no secret that mobile is now more important than ever. In September 2014, the Met launched its first app. Sreenivasan wanted to provide Museum visitors with an app that would speak more directly to their interests, “instead of putting the whole museum in [their] pocket.” Art enthusiasts can track upcoming events, save their favorite works of art to their smartphones and tweet about their favorite exhibitions. Within two weeks of its release, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times and has been hailed as one of the Apple Store’s “Best New Apps.”

Though his title is Chief Digital Officer, Sreenivasan considers himself to be more of a “Chief Listening Officer,” observing the varying interests and behaviors of the institution’s 6 million museum attendees and the 30 million unique online visitors a year. “That’s a lot of listening,” quipped Sreenivasan.

One result of all that listening was a commitment to creating hashtags for each exhibition. No small feat, considering the Met currently houses over 2 million works of art. Sreenivasan credits the audience who tweeted their wishes for an intuitive way to share their museum experiences.

Sreenivasan notes that audiences are becoming increasingly “culturally curious,” eager to glimpse the behind-the-scenes of installations. The Met answered this growing need by displaying online the restoration of one of its most coveted acquisitions, Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660, by French artist Charles Le Brun.

Charles Le Brun (French, Paris 1619–1690 Paris) Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660 Oil on canvas; 110 1/4 × 129 1/8 in. (280 × 328 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Keith Christiansen, 2014 (2014.250) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/626692

Through the Met’s social channels, fans and followers were able to view this typically veiled process from anywhere in the world. “Instead of working on it in secret for a year and then putting it out, we’ve already started blogging about it.” Viewer comments have ranged from questions surrounding oil paint solvents to expressions of gratitude for the ability to witness art history in the making.

One such commenter said, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see this fascinating work…. [R]eading about it does not convey the same image.”

Another asked, “How many more do we have to look forward to? I’m anxious to see the work in the gallery, but not so much that I wish you to rush, rush. I am enjoying my time!”

When it comes to choosing social media platforms, Sreenivasan advised that, depending on your business, you don’t always have to be on every network, and “there is no reason to be first [on a social media platform]. Join when it makes sense for you.” Sreenivasan reminded the audience of the potential minefield of controversy that social media platforms can become. “Almost everyone will miss everything you do until you make a mistake,” he cautioned. In the October 2014 New York Times article, Museums Morph Digitally, Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute in London, echoed this sentiment, “I learned not to underestimate museums. They were a little slow to the digital game. That’s a good thing.”

Slow to the digital game, perhaps, but well-conceived. Sreenivasan’s digital strategy at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has allowed this nearly 150 year-old institution to remain a timeless cultural mainstay while continually reinventing how it delivers art to art enthusiasts, based on their desires as they express them, from their smartphones to the front steps of the Museum itself.

BY THEO LEGRO

The Future of Omni-Channel: Insights, Innovations & Experiences

June 17, 2015

net-a-porterIn this technology-driven age, a common challenge for companies has been integrating new technologies into their existing business models, marketing and operations. This has been said to remain true for luxury brands. Convention has held that digital commerce is for the penny-wise. Research and consulting firm McKinsey dispels this perception. It reported that nearly 50% of luxury purchases are in fact influenced by digital. Warc’s Darika Ahrens aptly notes, “High-end income earners love high-end technology.”

Recognizing this, luxury fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, an early adopter of new technologies in retail, is leading the way in immersive experiences that touch upon all senses to resonate with these digital-savvy, affluent consumers. Speaking at the Center Emily-Culp-BRITEon Global Brand Leadership’s BRITE ’15 conference, Emily Culp, Rebecca Minkoff’s SVP of eCommerce and Omni-Channel Marketing, discussed driving customer lifetime value by delivering multi-faceted experiences derived from technology, insights and organizational structure.

In 2014, Rebecca Minkoff launched its “Connected Stores” in New York and San Francisco. Culp explained that by leveraging beacon technology and RFID tags, Rebecca Minkoff offers consumers an even more personalized, integrated experience. “When [our customer] walks into the fitting room, it Rebecca-Minkoff-Connected-Storerecognizes merchandise and gives recommendations on what to wear [the item] with.” Interactive dressing room mirrors entice customers to browse video and content, order complimentary beverages, save merchandise options to their devices via the Rebecca Minkoff app, and check in-store and online inventory. Customers can even adjust fitting room lighting to reflect the setting in which they would don the outfit (i.e. “SoHo after dark”).

In developing experiences for their omni-channel consumer, the question Culp asks herself is straightforward: “How do we flawlessly execute this omni-channel marketing in such a complex ecosystem?” At BRITE ’15, she outlined four essential points to succeed at this:

  1. Leadership: the ability to embrace smart risk and experimentation
  2. Expertise: building teams with hybrid skill-sets (e.g. creativity combined with an understanding of metrics)
  3. Linkage: breaking down the silos to align the KPIs of different departments
  4. Communication: sharing insights even when they may seem irrelevant to another team. “Maybe they can take it in a different way that another hasn’t [considered],” explained Culp.

In particular, culling data from all touchpoints is at the foundation of their approach. “A lot of people think that data is boring,” she explains. “I inherently think this is one of the most creative and fascinating parts of marketing today.” Quantitative and qualitative insights paint a holistic picture of their consumer. “[W]e can see as she traverses across these different channels what her behavior is and help her make informed decisions when it’s right for her.”

Through research, Culp’s team discovered that their consumer checks her smartphone, on average, 150 times a day, spiking at different points depending on when she’s at work using her computer or at night on her tablet. “The constant is mobile. So for us, when we’re looking at omni-channel marketing… we start with mobile.”

Rebecca-Minkoff-App
Culp stresses the importance of not employing technology for technology’s sake. It should have a purpose. For Rebecca Minkoff, it’s using technology to seamlessly deliver value to consumers, relieving pain-points and empowering them to make informed decisions while shopping in-store and on any device at any time, anywhere in the world.

Check out Emily Culp’s talk at BRITE ’15 to hear more on developing omni-channel innovations and experiences to drive long-term value.

BY ALLIE ABODEELY

Warby Parker: Oversharing as a Business Strategy

April 2, 2014

Neil Blumenthal and his business partners – David Gilboa, Andrew Hunt, and Jeffrey Raider – believed the eyewear industry wasn’t responding to customer needs and found an innovative solution to meet those needs. Blumenthal, who recently spoke at the BRITE ’14 conference, explained, “[We] didn’t like the process of buying glasses. . . [or] that glasses cost as much as an iPhone.” As a result, they founded Warby Parker, a company with “a lofty objective: to create boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point.”

Warby Parker effectively disrupted the eyewear industry in two ways: First, by using a direct, e-commerce model -cutting out the middle man- and by building a new brand –thus not having to pay licensing fees-, they significantly lowered the price of stylish eyewear; their frames, with premium lenses included, start at $95, that’s 25% of the market price. And second, by creating their “home try-on program,” sending customers, free of charge, a test package of frames they select to try on at home before they commit to buy. As a spin-off benefit, the home try-on experience is a shared customer experience, inherently accessible to family, friends, and even co-workers. The program, then, turned in to a marketing tool itself.

Blumenthal described Warby Parker as a lifestyle brand that offers value and service with a social mission at its core. With every pair of glasses purchased, Warby Parker gives a pair of glasses to someone in need. “Even at $95, there are still about a billion people in the planet that don’t have access to glasses and we think that that’s just crazy,” he said. At the end of each month, the Warby Parker team tally up the number of glasses sold and makes a financial contribution to Vision Spring; an organization that uses glasses to create jobs, making a more sustainable impact. In terms of their own business, Blumenthal believes that having a social mission helps increase customer loyalty and referrals, but does not drive the decision of making the first purchase.

According to Blumenthal, what has helped build strong relationships with customers and ultimately increase sales is a culture of transparency. “The more vulnerable we are, the more that we put ourselves out there, the deeper those relationships and the more valuable they become from an economic standpoint,” he added. In just four years, Warby Parker has sold over 500,000 frames and has grown from an apartment-based startup in Philadelphia, to a 350-employee business with a flagship store in SoHo.

“The public and your customers [are] participating more and near dictating what your brand is…you need to give people the tools to have it the way you want them to have it,” Blumenthal explained. Warby Parker focuses on creating experiences that are meant to spark conversations both online and offline. “It’s all about customer experience and constant innovation.”

When asked about a seemingly counter-intuitive expansion into the realm of brick-and-mortar stores – Warby Parker now has stores in New York, LA, and Boston, and has showrooms within boutiques in five additional states- Blumenthal explained, “[The] medium doesn’t matter. It’s the experience that matters and we need to design those experiences [holistically] from the moment they hear about the brand.”

Sharing is a fundamental element of the Warby Parker strategy – internally with staff and externally with consumers. As the majority of Warby Parker employees are millennials who want instant feedback on their performance, the leadership team has instituted monthly informal reviews and quarterly 360° reviews.

Moreover, as Ross Crooks explains in Forbes, “Business is becoming increasingly personal…; we crave more personal connection in a web-based world.” Customers want to relate to the people behind the brands they support, they want to know “that employees are people they might hang out with.” The Warby Parker team constantly keeps their fans abreast of “what [Warby Parker is] doing, how and why”, which, Blumenthal says “pays in spades.” According to a recent Mintel study, millennials are more likely to overshare than their Baby Boomer parents.

Warby Parker’s annual report is a perfect example of how the company creatively engages stakeholders. The uniWarby Parker 2013 Annual Reportque feeling of its annual report has proved to be a successful marketing tool, leading to the highest sales days and traffic after releasing it each year and gaining free publicity for the brand; with fans sharing the report in social media, and getting mentions in press outlets such as Forbes, AdAge, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Business Insider. This year’s infographic annual report is laid out as an illustrated calendar with an update for each day of the year, is described by Business Insider as “a shareable page of organized chaos inspired by internet culture.” One tidbit of transparency it shares in this year’s report is the fact that half the inventory of their new collection was delivered to the wrong address.

In today’s world, Blumenthal said, “brands are able to rise faster than ever before, but they’re also able to collapse faster than ever before.” Warby Parker has found that the best way to maintain momentum is by strengthening its connections with its customers through the sharing of relevant, personal, and entertaining content and the creation of experiences, regardless of the platform.

Watch Neil Blumenthal’s BRITE ’14 talk to learn more about how Warby Parker incorporates innovation into customer experience.

BY GABRIELA TORRES PATIÑO, EDITED BY ALLIE ABODEELY

Brand Value: Measuring All the Angles

June 13, 2012

Measuring Brand ValueAh, the L.A. Dodgers, a team whose recent woes under the leadership of Frank McCourt resulted in a purchase that rocked the baseball world. In 2011, Forbes estimated the Dodgers to be worth $800 million, more than the average value of a major league baseball team team. Thanks to a TV deal in March 2012, Forbes upped that number to $1.4 billion. One month later, news erupted that Guggenheim Baseball Management, a consortium lead by Magic Johnson, would acquire the team for a whopping $2.15 billon.

Many questioned the rationale behind this dollar amount, exclaiming the consortium vastly overpaid for a franchise with such a comparatively low net worth. David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, tells Fox Business, that it’s not solely about buying an organization at face value. “It’s purchasing a baseball team that is an anchor that allows you to make money off other revenue-rich opportunities.”

Chief executives that agree with this see the value of a brand. However, many CEOs, CFOs, and accounting teams still see marketing and communications as cost line items rather than buttresses that sustain brands and lend book value to companies.

Columbia Business School recently published two studies related to varying perspectives organization’s have about the value of marketing. The first, “Accounting for Marketing Activities,” found that part of the problem is internal communications. Experts feel that marketers don’t clearly articulate the impact of their expenditures on bottom lines to finance officers. The second, “Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data,” adds that there’s a need to develop a better understanding of how marketing creates financial returns for companies. Attributing value to marketing is a common struggle.

Marketing’s role, in its most basic form, is to get the word out to the right people through a range of channels. But an integral part of this is communicating a brand’s core message and relevance to its audience, demonstrating value for consumers, which in turn adds value to a company. The foundation of a strong brand is built by delivering on a promise—providing quality and dependable products and/or services. But intangible items like brand persona, experience, and reputation are also largely influential when it comes to actual purchase and loyalty, generating sales and revenue. Much of this process can be attributed to the emotional connection formed between brand and consumer.

Developing meaningful relationships with a brand’s audience is a vital part of path-to-purchase, advocacy, financial growth and longevity. Humanizing brands leverages such relationships. In addition to products and services, they offer distinct images, feelings, experiences, thoughts and perceptions creating differentiated value in the mind of its audience. In fact, a brand is, in essence, an extension of one’s self. Consumers are more apt to buy products from a particular brand that reflects their personality and aligns with their interests and personal values, subsequently raising the net worth of a brand.

Apply this notion to the Dodgers. Another factor contributing to the high-priced offer is that they’re the… L.A. Dodgers, a well-known brand that officially acquired its name over 70 years ago. There’s history behind these “boys of summer,” a term that’s not only in a Don Henley song, but the title of a book based on this very team. More than ticket sales, sponsorship, and TV deals, the bid amount stemmed from relationships with devoted fans and the iconic value of the Dodgers brand in and of itself.

Coca-Cola Ad (1938)

Coca-Cola ad from 1938
Click to enlarge

Another prime example is Coca-Cola. In CNBC’s documentary, “Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing,” Donald R. Keough, former president of Coca-Cola, discussed the implications of its 1985 debacle, the launch of the now-defunct “New Coke.” He received a tearful call from a stranger, an elderly woman. She was heartbroken by the reformulation of its trademark beverage. Interestingly enough, she hadn’t sipped the soda since the 1940s, and therefore not tasted this new iteration. However, the Coca-Cola brand held memories for her, ones that she strongly associated with her childhood. She told Keough that they were playing with her youth. When Coca-Cola decided to lay the original Coke to rest, it took a piece of her past with it.

A CFO may say this is a nice story, but she hadn’t been a consumer in years. Though she may not have spent a nickel on Coca-Cola in decades, the brand clearly resonated with her. And there were plenty of present-day consumers who also protested New Coke. Value to her and the millions of others was emotive. For those who did not like the taste, had the emotional connection not existed, they wouldn’t have expressed such outrage over the new formula. Instead, they simply would have ceased buying it. Keough noted to CNBC, “We did not understand the deep emotions of so many of our customers for Coca-Cola.”

BY ALLIE ABODEELY

Haircuts as Inspiration

February 12, 2010

Bernd SchmittIn the fall of 2009, our Faculty Director, Bernd Schmitt, was interviewed by McGraw Hill as part of its “Thinkers 50” global ranking of business thinkers.

At one point, Schmitt discusses an enlightening haircut experience when a barber inspired him to rethink the way he had always parted his hair. Such challenges to historic thinking represent the importance for business leaders to be bold enough to “kill their sacred cows”–those ingrained methods of doing business that they never even consider rethinking.

The interview, conducted in three parts, provides more thoughts from Schmitt on:

To hear Bernd Schmitt speak at BRITE ’10, register now.

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