How long has it been since you checked your customer analytics dashboard?

When’s the last time you asked a customer to do a survey?

What about got on the phone with them?

Had a meeting in person?

Those are all incredible ways to understand your customer, but there’s another way that goes even deeper, and can be worth billions of dollars when done properly.

When’s the last time you talked to them while they do their job?

Major brands like Coke and Proctor & Gamble invest heavily into this type of ethnographic research, visiting customers as they use their products in-situ. They are deeply customer-centric organizations.

One famous story of the success of this approach is with Febreeze, which was almost yanked from shelves in the 90’s.

The product, while incredible at cleaning up smells, just wasn’t selling. People were a bit confused about it and didn’t think their houses smelled, because they were used to the smells.

That is, until someone had a conversation that lead to an insight that changed the communication. The communication happened as a conversation in a home filled with 9 cats.

The insight that people didn’t think their homes smelled lead to the addition of additional scents into the formulation, and the product became the“final touch” in the cleaning ceremony. The coup de grâce on a messy room.

With this insight in hand, the marketing communications changed dramatically. Febreeze started as some experimenting in a lab, and is now a $1 billion dollar brand.

But it wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for the simple act of spending time with customers while they do their jobs, and engaging with them in the meaning and importance of these jobs.

Spending time with customers while they do their jobs isn’t always so easy as to send some ethnographers or strategists to a consumers home. It might mean sending them to an oil rig, or a lonely mine in Siberia. Or even just the checkout counter of a local store.

What’s important is investing in the listening and understanding. If P&G had decided that Febreeze was just a flop based on early results, they’d be out over $1 billion. But they believe in the very simple value that you must listen to and understand your customers, and that requires time and investment.

That’s why we focus on the outcome, not the technology. It’s only with an entire process wrapped together that we can find these gems of insight that can transform a customer experience from bland to delightful. They’re hard to find, and come from unexpected places, but when you find them, your business smells a lot fresher verses the competition.

To learn more about how SMITH approaches customer experience, download CX: It Starts with Them.

Tags: Insights, CX, customer experience