Clear Thinking - The Business Experience



The Business Experience
Business Performance Improvement Services
for individuals, teams, and organisations

Customer Focus Audit + Ideas

Classic Cases demonstrate the NEED for Customer Focus

Classic Cases
of costly
Customer Focus


... that our Customer-Focusing Process would have spotted in advance

Customer FocusWe have a veritable library of Case Studies

… where organisations of all sizes and types have lost their Customer Focus and made costly errors in strategy, plans, projects, products, operations … especially communications. Here are just a few to demonstrate how easy it is to get trapped in your 'subjectivity box'.

All the examples of Customer Focus errors in our library could have been avoided
by examining the situation rigorously, methodically, and objectively from the Customers’ Perspective using our Customer Questions, Tests, and Prompts

… in the fourth case below by a simple 10 minute Test ("Meanings?")


♦ Driverless and electric cars
♦ Banks + Financial Services PPI etc mis-selling
♦ The UK High Street retailers 
♦ Two-words error cost £millions - missed by focus groups tests
♦ Three key lessons all organisations can learn from
♦ One-word boobs - Consignia consigned to the bin
♦ Even experts make simple mistakes without being aware

see below for details

Driverless Cars and Electric Cars

Have your opinions been sought?

The jury is out as to the likely success of these two innovations. Electric cars still have a large number of development and adoption barriers. Not to mention the thorny issues of the increased electricity production and distribution problems (rarely mentioned).

And we wonder what percentage of the driving population will be happy to give up their driving 'experience'. Most people we know actually like driving. And it will take massive quantities of peripheral electronic equipment (which can all go wrong or be hacked) to make consumers feel safe riding in one of these robot innovations.

The large Banks and other Financial Services 

The vast majority of the financial services industry is a classic case in getting the balance between Business Thinking and Customer Thinking more weighted towards Business. 

PPI mis-selling, SWAPS mis-selling, Libor rate manipulation, 125% mortgages, interest-only mortgages ... there seems no end to the damage being inflicted to the reputation of the financial services industry.

This Business-focused strategy could backfire badly when (or if) significant new competitors emerge who can overcome customers' inertia and risk-aversion. Regulators and Governments seem at a loss to figure out how to solve this particular culture problem. The Bank of England has admitted it is still learning lessons from the last Financial Crisis.

The UK High Street and its retailers

Two aspects here. One customer 'turn-off' is that national chains have made almost all High Streets look the same. The other is the boredom factor, with many shops failing to inspire customer visits in the internet age. This applies even to car showrooms.

Having recently visited Italy, we noticed (once again) the enormous gap in creativity between UK shops and those in Europe.

 from a major corporation cost £millions

... for the sake of a
10 minute Test ("Meanings")

One of the world’s biggest companies with top agency support and pre-testing, launched a new two-word (strategic) slogan, costing several £million. But they got a rude shock at their next AGM. Shareholders loudly expressed disapproval, maintaining that the slogan implied that the company was moving away from its core business.

Despite strenuous efforts by the chairman to explain what the slogan meant, the shareholders refused to listen. The company was forced to drop the slogan until they could explain their intentions more carefully and clearly. They failed, and, at huge cost, they gave up developing their concept. (The concept was right, but the timing wasn't)

Three important lessons every business can learn from
  1. your target audience will decide the meaning of your words and pictures, depending on their own experiences and level of message pre-awareness
  2. you need to check in advance your target’s awareness of, and readiness to accept, new concepts, ideas, and plans. A major EU company's plan had to be scrapped, causing huge embarrassment, because they failed to judge how people might react. 
  3. focus groups can make BIG mistakes, even in testing just two words.
… and some ONE WORD boobs

The Royal Mail, a strong well-known brand, tried to change its name to the innocuous and unmemorable Consignia’. Our instant reaction was “Consigned to the bin, like junk mail” – which is precisely what happened to it after unanimous disapproval.

Then there was Monday’ – a brilliant idea for company name (the rebranding of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ consulting arm). Everybody loves Monday, don’t they?  Well, IBM quickly ditched it when they bought the business.

Even experts can get it wrong

 – without being aware

NOBODY noticed or pointed out the 'obvious' mistake, either at the presentation or during design and pre-tests

A speaker from a major industrial education body gave a presentation to over 100 HR and training professionals on his Government-sponsored ‘product’ with a two-word title. Trouble is, this phrase has four possible meanings, depending on who was doing what to whom etc.

The audience never knew which interpretation the speaker meant at any one time. At the end there was total silence. He left; completely unaware of the confusion. No business resulted (we asked, later).

The campaign brochure suffered the same multiple-interpretation problem. The designers had obviously noticed the ambiguity potentail and tried to cope by using different font styles for each of the two words, but even this failed.

Have a Demo Contact us for an introductory discussion and demonstration of our Customer-Focusing Process applied to any aspect of your business.