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Customer Review

TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 June 2013
I cannot recall a prior time when customers had more control over the purchase/pass decision-making process than they do now. There are several reasons why. Here are three: they have more choices than ever before (including passing), they know more about products and services than ever before (especially via consumer reviews and social media), and so-called "customer loyalty" is earned and retained or lost one transaction at a time. The essence of marketing remains unchanged (i.e. create or increase demand for whatever is offered) but just about everything else has changed.

Although the term "youtility" is a tad cutesie for my literary palate, it does correctly stress two key concepts: customer-centrism, and, usefulness. According to Jay Baer, "Instead of marketing that's needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that's wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers." As one sign of the times, Best Buy has done that by providing useful information that many people then use when making purchases online...from Amazon.

Baer examines three types of consumer awareness: Top-of-Mind ("an overripe banana tenuously clinging to relevancy"), Frame-of-Mind ("an apple, worthy of eating, but not enough to sustain you"), and Friend-of-Mine (Baer offers no metaphor so I will suggest a cook book). He identifies and discusses 20 companies that possess a Friend-of-Mine mindset and demonstrate Youtility in their customer relationships. Listed in alpha order, they include Angie's List, Big Popppa Smokers, Charmin (Sit or Squat), Clorox, Columbia Sportswear, Hilton Worldwide (@HiltonSuggests program), Holiday World, Life Technologies, McDonald's Canada, Phoenix Children's Hospital, Scott's Miracle-Gro Company, Syncapse, and Taxi Mike.

However different these organizations may be in most respects, all of them -- in my opinion -- seem committed to achieve most of these strategic objectives:

o Identify and understand (really understand) customer needs
o Embed those needs within marketing initiatives that respond to them
o Market (promote, better yet celebrate) marketing
o Embed a Youtility mindset at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise
o Sustain Youtility as an on-going process, a way of organizational life, not as a special project
o Use quantitative analytics to "keep score" both internally and externally

Baer explains how to achieve these objectives, providing a blueprint for each in Part Three. As several of his exemplars (notably Big Popppa Smokers and Taxi Max) clearly indicate, Youtility can be created and then sustained by almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Business leaders who read this book should pay special attention to how quite different companies have become Youtility-driven.

As I concluded my first reading of this book, I was again reminded of Fred Reichheld's research on the importance of trust ("glue") in all of an organization's relationships with stakeholders, especially those with its employees and companies. It was Reichheld who devised the "Ultimate Question," one that obtains customer data of ultimate importance: "On a zero-to-ten scale, how likely is it that you would recommend us (or this product/service/brand) to a family member, friend or colleague?" As Reichheld explains, the phrasing of that question is "a shorthand wording of a more basic question, which is, [begin italics] Have we treated you right, in a manner that is worthy of your loyalty? [end italics]' The results calculate what Reichheld identifies as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and so shall I. But the question really wasn't [and isn't] the heart of things. After all, no company can expect to increase its growth or profitability merely by conducting surveys, however the question or questions might be phrased." A Youtility-driven company will have employees as well as customers giving it a high NPS. If you purchase the book from Amazon, it will cost you only $15.55 (hardbound edition) to learn just about everything Jay Baer has learned about how to create and then sustain a customer-centric, high-impact organization. How high would your company's NTS score be?

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check Reichheld's The Ultimate Question 2.0 (Revised and Expanded Edition): How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World as well as Joseph Michelli's The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
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