Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hair Style - New way to Influence

The word 'Influence' is becoming relevant and apt for every action in our life be it personal or professional. How can we influence somebody to achieve our goals or how can I persuade somebody for mutual benefit seems to be the perennial thought.

Dr.Robert Cialdini is a seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion.In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials), he refers to 6 distinct ways through which one can influence to acheive his goals. One of the ways is "Liking".Without getting into details on this technique, just wanted to highlight one key consumer insight - " Although it is generally acknowledged that good looking people have an advantage in social interaction, recent findings indicate that we have sorely underestimated this advantage. A halo effect occurs when one characteristic of the person dominates as a result of which we would automatically assign favorable traits such as talent, Kindness, intelligence, street smart to the good looking person".Looks like "looking good" will be  a useful influence/persuasion technique.

Scene change. Traffic is one of the biggest problems we face in our daily life.Traffic on the road is a bane due bad infrastructure and indisciple of motorists. Thats not what I was referring to.. Driving relevant traffic to the physical store or to the online store is one of the biggest challenges business face..Some of the metrics that businesses track includes footfalls, store productivity, week day traffic, week-end traffic,ticket size per customer, repeat visits,store utilization to name a few..

Will try and use this insight " looking good to Influence" and address a business problem-TRAFFIC for one of the business which is going through a huge transformation, atleast in India..

Hair Salon Business

From a mere neighborhood shop with no branding, they have moved to become hair stylist to beauty salons to beauty salon chains focusing on hair care,skin care and have become lifestyle brand is a  brand that attempts to embody the values and aspirations of a group or culture for purposes of marketing.

 Why are salons going through this transformation? It's mostly market driven.

 According to the Census of India, 2001, we have almost 20% of our population in the age group of 15 to 24 — that’s what actually ought to be considered the core youth target group — and around 27% in the age group of 15 to 29. 

  • The group with the good propensity to spend..  
  • The group which is always on look out for every opportunity to look good or  to differentiate themselves in the crowd to gain acceptance or influence. Some examples
    • Street smart salesman trying to influence his prospect
    • Job seeker trying to impress the potential employer
    • Guy try to impress a girl or the other way around
    • Looking good to gain acceptance in a peer group

I had a chance to speak to few people in the salon industry and some of the stated problems:
  • Weekend is always full house but week days have minimal footfalls.How to get visits during off peak hours?
  • With many stores coming in each neighborhood, what does the salon need to do retain its customers?
  • With significant investment on branding and new stores, how to get their return on investment?
  • How to generate new traffic to the store?
Insight:  " looking good to Influence"

Trigger feature:How many times have you walked out of the salon with a wonderful hairstyle after the hair cut but not able  reproduce the same style the next day 

Solution: Salon should use this insight  & trigger feature and create a new promo.Instead of just focusing on haircuts and related service to generate business, how about "Hair Style for the day".. 
  • The program will be run from Mon -Friday between 9am - 5pm ( only during off peak hours)
  • To any customer, walk into the store and get a new hair style done in just 15 mins for just Rs.50... just before your interview or before your date or before your crucial meeting and look good
  • The salon can run daily/weekly theme promos like SPIKES for men, Curls for woman
  • Flavor of the month:Popular  Hair styles of hero and heroine from latest movies
  • Benefit for the customer/visitor - an opportunity to look good which will inturn help to influence or atleast feel good.
  • Benefit to the business: additional traffic during off peak, new customers, start new relationships by starting small
  • Extension could be mobile hair style salon in the popular hangouts like mall,multiplex, office complex etc.
This will generate significant buzz for the salon especially with  the right Target Audience. If this promo is a success , then all the above business challenges will potentially have answers

Remember, everybody is looking for an opportunity to impress or influence.Do it in Style!!!!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Restaurant 2.0 - New way to build customer relationships for a restaurant Biz

In one of my previous post,I did discuss about customer 2.0, celebrity 2.0, markets 2.0. There is a radical shift in every possible interaction that we are having in our daily routine, be it our work place, leisure, entertainment etc. If the interaction isn't remarkable, chances are that the business could be on the downward movement. 

Businesses are trying to re-look at the current relationship management strategy. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) 2.0 is all about evolving from its traditional focus on optimizing customer-facing transactional processes to include the strategies and technologies to develop collaborative connections  and strengthen the relationship with the new age social customers. In this post,wish to take up an unorthodox business category and  attempt to bring in the 2.0 perspective. Restaurant!!!

This category is of high intrigue because:
  • Restaurants do not have any data on consumer preferences. Every visit by a customer is treated as new visit
  • Customers have no way to remember the order preferences during their last visit hence one's ability to try new things could be limited
  • Consumer feedback about the restaurant is always on the overall experience and not necessarily about individual food items. Consumers do not tend to remember taste of the food beyond a day. Minimal scope to give or get feedback about specific food items at that instance
  • In a busy restaurant, one ends up waiting for a long time to place an order. This leads to delay in service hence negative experience
  • Consumers reviews are increasingly popular and is one of the determining factors for go/no-go decisions to visit a restaurant
  • The restaurant management is always on the lookout for cost save initiatives
In a competitive environment, restaurants are looking at new ways of differentiating themselves beyond just quality, variety ,presentation of food and restaurant ambiance. Valet parking, toddler seats and other complimentary services have now become 'me too' services. Today's tech savvy consumer is expecting each and every interaction to be remarkable.

What should a restaurant biz team do to improve customer loyalty and relationship?

Enter Restaurant 2.0

I will try and attempt to provide a point of experience (PoE) solution which will help solve all the issues aforesaid for an upmarket restaurant. The solution will provide:
  •  A remarkable experience for the customer as he will be able to  get reviews, real-time feedback ,recommendations using social media before making his choice
  • Tons of information for the Restaurant marketer which will help  provide personalized service/campaigns to encourage repeat visits, improve ticket size and improve other relevant business metrics.
Walk through of the remarkable experience for the customer at the restaurant
  • Customer enters a restaurant for lunch/dinner
  • Each dining table will have a touch pad computer instead of a physical menu card
  • Customer will log-in to his/family page or if it is his first visit then he will have to register
  • The home page will have the menu. The page will also showcase other recommendations like top chosen food item for the month, restaurant's specific recommendations for the customer, user review about each food item, food preference of the customer the last time he visited the restaurant and other related information
  • If the customer chooses to do a broadcast search on social media,he will have access to Facebook friends, fans page or any other social network to get real time opinions/suggestions 
  • The consumer can place the order through the touch pad without waiting for any human intervention
  • Once the food is served,the customer will have a choice to give real-time feedback about each food item ordered
  • Provide feedback on overall experience after finishing the lunch/dinner
  • Since the touchpad is connected to internet, the customer can pay the bill online which will possibly result in minimal service delays
This will truly be a remarkable experience for the customer and a good starting point for  strong collaborative connections & strengthening of  relationship between the new age social customer and the restaurant which is the whole proposition of CRM 2.0

I am sure skeptics will complain about the absence of human interaction with the customer while placing the order for food. The personalized home page will more than compensate for the human interaction. But am a convinced with Robert Cialdini's insight  " Civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about it". This insight explains the possibility for lesser inertia for change to this new technology intervention at a dinner table.

Looking to get a much more personalized service the next time I visit a restaurant... Possibly the Restaurant 2.0 way!!!