How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way

SHIFTING FOCUS TO THE NEEDS OF THE PATIENT

In December of 2004, the 77-year-old father of James Merlino, a colorectal surgeon in training at the Cleveland Clinic, came to the hospital for a biopsy, expecting to be discharged later in the day. Merlino’s father never left the hospital, unexpectedly dying seven days later.

As he describes in his book, Service Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way, Merlino was devastated by his father’s death, not only because it was so unexpected but also because of the way his father had spent those final days — days of frustration at unresponsive nurses, insensitive doctors and inefficient service, combined with the growing fear that he was going to die.

His father’s death was a turning point for Merlino, who recognized that, contrary to what was taught to rising young doctors, medicine should not be simply the emotionless treatment of disease. Hospitals needed to focus on the entire experience of the patient.

Merlino left the Cleveland Clinic but returned a few years later under a new CEO who had launched a revolutionary Patients First mission for the hospital. Merlino would eventually become the Chief Experience Officer of the Cleveland Clinic. Service Fanatics is the story of how he and the new CEO, Toby Cosgrove, turned the mission of Patients First into reality. Today, the Patients First mindset drives every decision and process of the Cleveland Clinic.

The Cleveland Clinic story is one of overcoming resistance and derision and battling the egos of doctors who treated patients as numbers or diseases, not as people. While doctors attempted to resolve the disease as best they could, they had no awareness of the fears and needs of the person behind the disease. The patient was almost irrelevant; it was the ailment that was the focus.

It is the story of transforming a hospital into a place in which every person on staff is considered and expected to be a “caregiver.” In his quest to transform the hospital’s approach to patients, Merlino conducted extensive research with other hospitals and explored other organizations and industries beyond the medical profession.

One of the first steps in creating a new Patients First environment, Merlino writes, was to precisely define the goal. The challenge in medicine is that the customer is not always right. In Merlino’s specialty, for example, patients must rise from bed the day after their surgery since getting up and walking around is essential to ensuring a good recovery. Patients, however, consider this obligatory exercise the sign of an insensitive doctor. Thus, unlike a restaurant, customer satisfaction can be a treacherous measure for whether a hospital is doing the best job it can.

Eventually, Merlino and his team at the Cleveland Clinic defined Patients First as 1) Safe Care, 2) Quality Care, 3) Customer Satisfaction and 4) High Value Care — in that specific order.

Service Fanatics is the careful narration of an organization meeting a customer-service challenge, and it is at once unique but filled with lessons for all types of organizations. Building the involvement of staff; adding to rather than changing your culture; executing by fixing processes first, then identifying best practices; and myriad other insights into transforming an organization, captured in valuable bullet points at the end of each chapter, will help leaders from all industries focus and align their businesses to the needs of the customer.

Creating Amazing Customer Experience – Excellence Or Consistency

Today’s guest blog is from Lior Arussy, president of Strativity Group, a customer experience transformation firm, and the author of 6 books including Exceptionalize It!.

We live in challenging times. Customers’ expectations are increasing exponentially. Their tolerance for anything less than amazing is diminishing. They demand excellence or they go elsewhere. Competitors are trying harder to delight customers constantly raising the customers’ expectation bar. On the other hand, cost reduction efforts are everywhere. We try to control costs by optimizing services. We do so by creating consistency everywhere. While striving to solve the excellence question, we end up with consistency as the answer.

We often make the mistake of confusing excellence and consistency. Consistency is about optimizing services and products to be without flaws. Delivering a “consistent” product or service focuses on removing elements of dissatisfaction and achieving parity.

At best, consistency meets customer expectations. Eliminating inaccurate invoices is an example of a consistency effort. Ensuring that all your products share the same level of quality is consistency. Responding to customer inquiries in a timely manner is consistency. Consistency is heavily dependent on processes, and these processes become the primary objective of the performance; employees are merely executers of carefully managed procedures. In a consistency-driven environment, employees themselves are secondary to the process. They are subservient to the roles dictated to them by the process definition. Consistency emphasizes optimized processes and de-emphasizes the role of employees. At best, consistency reaches parity but never exceeds expectations.

Consistency is basically just doing your job. Some companies do it well; others do it in a mediocre way. Delivering consistency is nice, but it is not excellence—unless the rest of your industry is consistently awful and you stand out for being able to meet basic customer expectations. In fact, the definition of consistency is being on par with customer expectations. It is a boring, uninteresting place to settle. No one will celebrate your consistent performance.

Excellence and superiority, on the other hand, are about going above and beyond. They are about pleasantly surprising the customer. Excellence is all about exceeding the expectations, not just meeting them. By definition, this type of performance requires human intervention to set higher goals, individualize and humanize the interaction, and be authentic throughout the whole experience. At the core of the contrast between consistency and excellence is the role of people and processes. With excellence, processes are merely a means to a goal. A tool to deliver a greater solution. Employees are in charge, and use of accepted processes are subject to their judgment. If a process assists them in achieving the goal, they will use it. Otherwise, they use their discretion to get the job done and exceed expectations. With excellence, the corporate culture permits such employee discretion and provides permission to perform, as well as permission to make mistakes.

Excellence requires an emotionally engaging performance that delivers an authentic and memorable caring touch. Processes are not able to do this, only people are. So, excellence is not a matter of a better process. To achieve excellence we need to place processes in their rightful place, as tools, and give people the freedom to perform.

In times of excellence or nothing, we must exceed the consistency paradigm and focus on reaching to the excellence standard. To do so we will need to rethink the tools, information and authority we provide our employees to deliver on the ever increasing customer expectation for excellence.

To hear more about meeting customer expectations, join us on May 12th for our Soundview Live webinar with Lior Arussy: Stop Boring & Start Exciting Your Customers.

How to Create Strong Relationships with Consumers

Romancing the Brand. It sounds like the sequel to Romancing the Stone, the movie. But actually it’s a new book by author Tim Halloran. Here is how he begins the book.

“It wasn’t a particularly dramatic moment. The eight women sat around the overflowing table of colored cans and bottles of soft drinks. They has just completed what we call a ‘sorting’ exercise, in which participants arranged soft drink brands in groups based on some organizing principle that they were to develop themselves. I don’t remember how they organized the forty-plus brands that day, but what happened next stuck with me. A petite woman in her late twenties, picked up one of the cans and said to the focus group moderator, ‘I drink eight of these a day. It is always with me, no matter what happens. I was there when my boss gave me my promotion last week. It was at my side two months ago when my cat died. It got me through it. I start and end my day with it. It’s never let me down. I can always count on it. To sum it up, it’s my boyfriend . . . Diet Coke.’”

Wouldn’t we all like to have this kind of loyalty from our customers? They are engaging in a rich, complex, ever-changing relationship, and they’ll stay loyal, resisting marketing gimmicks from competitors and influencing others to try the brand they love.

Halloran reveals what it takes to make consumers fall in love with your brand. Drawing on exclusive, in-depth interviews with managers of some of the world’s most iconic brands, he arms you with an arsenal of classic and emerging marketing tools—such as benefit laddering and word-of-mouth marketing—that make best-in-class brands so successful.

We’ve invited Tim Halloran to join us on April 30th to reveal to us How to Create Strong Relationships with Consumers. This Soundview Live webinar with give you the chance to learn first-hand about these emerging marketing tools, and to ask your most challenging questions. Join us for the sequel and bring your popcorn.

Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers

THE DECODED COMPANY

Using Big Data in Human Resources

What if companies knew as much about their employees as they knew about their customers? That is the provocative question at the heart of The Decoded Company — a book written by a group of entrepreneurs connected to a technology-driven health care marketing agency called Klick Health. Klick Health CEO Leerom Segal and his co-authors are great believers in the potential of big data — the myriad of information that is quietly and continuously collected from you as you go about your business as a consumer. Surprisingly, while companies have near-unanimously embraced the use of big data technology for their customers, very few attempt to find out more about their employees.

Three Principles

Using their own experiences as leaders of a fast-growing technology company, the authors describe in their book three fundamental principles for decoding your organization — that is, truly understanding in real time the individual skills, motivations and successes of employees, recognizing the challenges they face, and supporting each individual or groups of individuals as needed.

  • Principle 1: Technology as a Coach and a Trainer. According to the authors, most organizations use technology as a referee rather than as a coach. Technology allows companies to monitor what employees are doing and to whistle the fouls when they fall behind or fail. In decoded companies, technology is a      trainer and coach — preparing employees for the game (to continue the metaphor), then watching from the sidelines and jumping in to coach as      needed. One coaching idea proposed by the authors is the hiring of a “concierge” — someone who might use some of the traditional HR tools, such as career counseling or performance reviews, but whose one and only goal is to design a customized solution for each employee that helps them perform and grow. Technology as a trainer, the authors explain, means using “data and systems to watch blind spots, identify teachable moments, and proactively intervene with just-in-time training.”

 

  • Principle 2: Informed Intuition. The second principle is that technology does not replace but rather augments the intuition of leaders born from their      experience and knowledge, thus allowing them to make better decisions. The      capture of ambient data — ongoing information about what employees are doing or saying — is vital. (One example of the creation of ambient data is your Facebook activity. Facebook tracks with whom you communicate on their site, how often, from where and through which method, such as posting or chat message. This ambient data determines which Facebook friends end up on your newsfeed.) After analyzing a combination of ambient data and selected self-reported data, such as performance self-evaluations or monthly results, managers in decoded companies use their intuition to seek solutions to employee challenges. Bank of America discovered that the performance of call-center employees improved based on whom they talked to  during overlapping lunches. The bank thus decided to create more opportunities for employee conversations by changing a policy that had restricted overlapping breaks.

 

  • Principle 3: Engineered Ecosystems. The third principle is to use data to set up the culture and the environment that enables employees to work at their highest levels. Engineered ecosystems are both data-driven and talent-centric. For example, the authors describe how Google — which, as the company that tested 41 shades of blue for one of its toolbars, is notoriously data-driven — launched a major initiative to identify the most important traits for its managers. The results seemed at first less than earth-shattering: The eight identified traits included not micromanaging, expressing interest in employees’ success, having a vision and a strategy, and having the technical skills to advise the team. The data, however, not only identified the traits but also ranked their importance, and this is where Google’s leaders uncovered a truth about its culture that was contrary to everything they believed: technical expertise, once thought to be the keystone of a great Google manager, is the least important trait that a manager can have. Everything else comes first.

While Segal and his co-authors use Google and numerous other companies in a variety of industries as examples, it is their own success at Klick Healthcare that make The Decoded Company an authoritative, balanced and real-world exploration of the human resources potential of big data.

52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet

AMAZE EVERY CUSTOMER EVERY TIME

Use the Right Tools to Amaze People

In Amaze Every Customer Every Time, author Shep Hyken tells the story of a cyclist hit by a car. Dazed and bruised, the front wheel of his bike bent “like a taco,” the cyclist wanders into an Ace Hardware Store a half a block from the accident and asks the cashier if Ace sells bicycle wheels. Ace does not, but an associate – as Ace employees are called – volunteers to look at the bike. Then, as the cyclist sits nursing his bleeding shoulder, the associate, whose name is Mike, bangs the wheel back into shape using the curb and a rubber mallet, adjusts the tension on the spokes so that the wheel will spin properly, and uses duct tape to fix the front fender. The cyclist is able to ride home and later writes, in a grateful letter to the store, the following: “Mike, not only did you rescue a fallen cyclist and send him on his way… but you also restored his faith in the inherent goodness of human nature.”

For Hyken, the story illustrates the kind of customer service that Ace Hardware exemplifies – customer service that’s based not just on serving or satisfying the customer, but on amazing that customer. The fact that the cyclist was not even a customer only proves his point, which is why Hyken puts Ace Hardware Store at the center of his latest book.

The Five Stages

For Hyken, the keys to the success of Ace Hardware, which has been in business since 1924, are people who love what they do, an underdog position in the marketplace in which it revels, and a passion to serve.

To inspire this passion, Hyken explains, employees of Ace Hardware are led through five distinct stages related to the brand promise: uncertainty (what is the brand promise, and can it be fulfilled?); alignment (understanding the brand promise); experience (a positive experience of the brand promise); ownership (after many such positive experiences, believing that the brand promise will be experienced every time); and amazement (consistently above-average brand experiences.) Once employees have reached the amazement stage, they are ready to lead the customers themselves through the five stages.

52 Tools for Delivering Amazement

To help companies emulate the success of Ace Hardware, Hyken offers 52 tools for delivering amazing customer service. He groups these tools into five areas: leadership, a culture of service, one-on-one interactions, a competitive edge and community.

“Know the value of your customer” is one example of a leadership tool. The average lifetime value of a grocery store customer is about $35,000. Knowing this lifetime value, Hyken writes, leaders should have no problem giving employees the independent authority to spend five dollars to solve any customer problem. “Adapt or die,” “know what drives your success,” and “play to your strengths” are also examples of Hyken’s leadership tools.

Other tools in the book include culture tools, one-on-one tools, competitive edge tools and community tools such as “do local well.”

One of the tools under culture is to “tell stories” – a tool Hyken uses himself to great effect. There’s the story, for example, of an elderly woman who was overcome by the heat one day. Since she had taken a taxi to the store, an associate offered to drive her home. The elderly woman regained her wits in the air-conditioned car, however, and asked the associate to stop by the grocery store – that’s where she had intended to go in the first place. The associate happily obliged – another example of why Ace Hardware Store deserves its own customer service book.

Amaze Your Customers

When I’m working on a big project at home, I generally make my plans and head to one of the big box hardware stores in order to save money on my purchase. As always, I find myself wandering around the store trying to find everything I need, and there never seems to be a knowledgeable employee around when I need one.

But when I’m in the middle of a project at home and I need to run to the store, I always go to our local Ace Hardware store. I know I can find the item I need, as well as helpful advice on solving most any problem.

The difference between these two experiences is what Shep Hyken focuses on in his latest book Amaze Every Customer Every Time. Through Shep’s in-depth research into this hardware chain, he explores the five tactical areas of customer amazement: leadership, culture, one-on-one, competitive edge, and community.

Shep Hyken, is a customer service expert, professional speaker and bestselling author who works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic, The Loyal Customer, The Cult of the Customer and The Amazement Revolution. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.

If you would like to up your game with customer service, then please consider joining us on November 12th for our Soundview Live webinar with Shep Hyken. You’ll hear revealing stories from Ace Hardware’s over-the-top work with customer, as well as learning the tools and tactics you’ll need to transform your company into a seriously customer-focused operation that will amaze every customer every time.

This webinar, Tools for Delivering Amazing Customer Service, is free for all Soundview subscribers, and just $49 for all others.

Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology

CONVERGE

MARKETING AND TECHNOLOGY JOIN FORCES AT LAST

In the past, marketing and technology were considered two vastly different functions. Nothing could be more different today, argue Bob Lord and Ray Velez, CEO and chief technology officer (CTO), respectively, of the global digital marketing group Razorfish. Marketing is about creating a customer experience, the authors write. And in today’s world of customers enabled by the Internet and the smartphone to be both engaged and demanding, creating a customer experience requires what the authors call the “convergence” of the disciplines and skills related to both marketing and technology.

More specifically, convergence is the coming together of media, technology and creativity. All three of these areas have dramatically changed in the past few decades, the authors write. Media is not about one-way communication such as TV ads, but about engaging with customers who control your brand’s reputation. Technology is not about infrastructure, but about identifying customer segments and helping to tell the stories that will bring them to the brand. And creativity is no longer a topdown process. Today, creativity comes from everywhere, including your customers.

It’s All About the Customer

One of the core themes of Converge is that business has never been more customer-driven than it is today. In this new customer-centric world, marketing, the authors write, “is no longer about throwing a message out into the world and hoping that you interrupt the right person at the right time. Marketing has become about service and utility, and much of it is technology enabled.” In other words, successful marketing requires using technology to help customers achieve their goals.

This is a lesson that Jeff Bezos and Amazon understood from day one, and technology-driven features such as their recommendation systems and readers’ reviews are the reason that no company – not even Barnes and Noble – has been able to knock the pioneer of online book sales off its perch. Customer-centricity is the first of the authors’ five principles of convergence that are required for success. The other four are:

  • Reject silos. Collaboration across functions is an absolute prerequisite for      convergence.
  • Act like a startup. Go for cheap, fast and flexible.
  • Adopt a cross-disciplinary mindset. “Get a wide variety of expertise around the      table,” write the authors.
  • Think of your brand as a service. You’re not selling stuff; you’re fulfilling a need.

Applying the Buzz Words

Much of the terminology covered in this text – such as cloud computing and data-mining – will be familiar. Through its explanations and examples, however, Converge transforms these often vague buzzwords into meaningful concepts with clear applications. Cloud computing, for example, allows companies that don’t have the resources of an Amazon to replicate Amazon’s data processing at a much lower cost than through traditional servers.

How to make the most of big data, what ubiquitous computing means to your company and its clients, and how to change your processes to take full advantage of today’s “marketing eco-system” are just a few of the critical business topics covered in Converge. Ending each chapter with a convergence to-do list called “Convergence Catalysts,” the authors – consultants responsible for results and not white papers – have produced a clearly written guide to marketing in the 21st century directly aimed at the business practitioner.

The Importance of Relationships

Relationships are key to business success. On a personal level, who we know really does make a difference in our career and personal life. But on the business level relationships are becoming more critical as well. Companies and brands are being built and destroyed through the power of word of mouth, especially via social media. So our relationship to our customers must be nourished just like our personal connections.

In the coming week we will have the privilege of hosting two webinars with experts in the area of personal and business relationships.

Transforming Your Business Contacts into Success with David Nour

David Nour has been a recognized strategist and thought leader on the topic of business relationships for more than 25 years. He delivers over fifty keynotes annually at leading industry associations, universities and Fortune 500 companies, has several top selling books and pioneered the phenomenon that relationships are the greatest off-balance sheet asset any organization possesses. He shares strategies and insight on The Nour Group’s blog, e-mail newsletters and social media assets reaching hundreds of thousands of executives and entrepreneurs across a broad base of industries and geographic markets.

In this Soundview Live webinar David Nour will take you beyond just getting and giving business cards, working a room, or getting the most out of a conference. His focus is how to strategically invest in relationships as your most valuable asset for an extraordinary return. Nour will introduce new concepts in relationship management, including the exchange of Relationship Currency, the accumulation of Reputation Capital, and the building of Professional Net Worth. These are the fundamental measures of business relationship, and once you understand them, you’ll be able to turn your contacts into better executions, performance, and results.

Harnessing the Power of Word of Mouth with Paul Rand

Paul M. Rand is the founder, president and CEO of Zócalo Group — a leading digital, social media and word-of-mouth marketing agency focused on making its client’s brands the most discovered, talked about and recommended in their category.  In addition to his role at Zócalo Group, Paul serves on the national board of directors for the Council of the Better Business Bureau is a past president and board member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and Vice Chairman of the Dean’s Advisory Board for DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business and Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

In this Soundview Live webinar, Paul Rand, the founder of one of today’s most successful digital and social marketing firms, will reveal how customer recommendations in the digital space have radically transformed the way people buy–which means you need to come up with new methods to reach customers and improve your products. Apply the lessons of one of the pioneers of word of mouth marketing to ensure that your brand is Highly Recommended.

Please join us for these two excellent events, and if you can’t make the particular dates, register anyway and you can watch the replay whenever you want. Put the power of recommendations to work in your career and business.

The New Power of the Consumer

MOBILE INFLUENCE

MASTER THE MOBILE SHOPPING LIFE CYCLE

In his new book, Mobile Influence, digital pioneer Chuck Martin quotes a vice president of one of the largest food brand companies in the world, who tells him, “There are 7 billion people in the world, and 5.1 billion of them have a cell phone, and 4 billion have a toothbrush.” With dramatic figures such as these, it’s hard to argue with Martin’s contention that “mobile is a complete game changer that alters consumer shopping like nothing before it.”

Specifically, Martin argues that mobile has killed the traditional sales funnel and replaced it with a new sixphase process that he calls the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle. The traditional sales funnel dealt with a stationary customer who moved step-by-step closer to the purchase. The mobile shopping cycle phases are not sequential but instead represent opportunities for influencing the customer that could happen at any time.

The Sale That Got Away

For example, Martin describes an experience at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in which he saw an item for sale. On his mobile, he found the same item 30 percent cheaper at another retailer. Since the manager at Dick’s refused to match the price, the author bought the item from the second retailer.

Notice that the other retailer had not moved the author from awareness to consideration to purchase. Instead, the other retailer became engaged with the author for the first time when the author was about to make the purchase at another store! “During the six distinct moments of the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle,” Martin explains, “marketers have the potential to steer the mobile consumer toward their product and influence shopping behaviors.”

The Six Influence Points

The six influence points of the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle are identified by Martin as follows:

1. The Set Up (Pre-buy). In this phase, the mobile shopper is doing research, Martin writes. This phase is similar to the traditional search phase of the pre-mobile age, except, of course, the technology used for the search is digital and mobile.

2. The Move (The transit). The consumer is on the way to the store or is running errands. The retailer locks in to the location and sends targeted messages to the consumer. For example, a customer is at a mall tweeting “I’m buying a new pair of jeans.” Alert marketers can contact the tweeting customer and use an offer to get them into their store in the mall.

3. The Push (On location). The consumer is at a brick-and-mortar store. There are a variety of uses for mobile in the store, from accessing coupons for redemption at the store to reading product reviews or looking at the retailer’s website for product info.

4. The Play (Selection process). The consumer is near the actual product being considered for purchase. One example: Consumers are scanning prices and comparing them on the spot with prices at other stores. As the example described above demonstrates, retailers need to pay attention to “the play.”

5. The Wrap (Point of purchase). This is a chance to connect with the consumer … while they are buying your product. For example, offers and counteroffers can be sent to the mobile device as the consumer is using a mobile self-checkout option.

6. The Takeaway (Post-purchase). As a buyer excitedly sends a picture of his car via his mobile, how can the auto manufacturer or dealer become part of the conversation? This is an example of the challenge for marketers at this phase.

Consumer interest in mobile shopping is so high that sometimes businesses are caught unaware. In the chapter on the pre-buy phase, Martin tells the story of a consumer loan company that put its loan application online. When a majority of online consumers unexpectedly started filling out the long and detailed application using their mobile devices instead of their laptops, the company realized that they needed to take specific steps to address the needs of mobile prospects and customers.

Written by the CEO of the Mobile Future Institute, Mobile Influence is an invaluable tool for businesses that are looking to take full advantage of the mobile revolution.

Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype

YOUTILITY

MAKE THE MOVE FROM HYPE TO HELP

Marketing depends on being able to command your customers’ attention. Historically, the strategy for marketing rested on “top-of-mind awareness,” explains marketing consultant Jay Baer in his new book, Youtility. Top-of-mind awareness is predicated on companies putting their brand names in front of the consumer as much as possible.

A more recent marketing strategy is the concept of “frame-of-mind awareness.” In this case, the brand appears when the consumer is in the right frame of mind — that is, when he or she is ready to buy. Search engine optimization and a presence on specialized sites is key.

Inbound marketing, as this type of marketing is called, is important, Baer writes, but it’s only half the story. As social media starts to compete with websites and search engines, companies cannot rely only on frame-of-mind marketing to sustain them in the information age. Today, instead of using a search engine, someone with a new dog might ask for a vet recommendation from his or her Facebook friends. As a result, companies need to engage in what Baer calls “friend of mine” awareness; instead of saying, “I’m here,” they need to ask, “How can I help?”

Baer calls this helpfulness, Youtility. He writes, “Instead of marketing that’s needed by companies, Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers.”

Three Facets of Youtility

How do you translate the attitude of helping your customers into action? The first step, according to Baer, is to understand the three facets of Youtility:

  • Self-serve information. Unlike in the past, people today are used to researching the information they need rather than depending on the advice of professionals. To build loyalty, companies must help customers and prospects in their quest for self-serve information.
  • Radical transparency. Companies shouldn’t try to hide or distort information; prospects want to know the unfiltered details. Make it easier, not harder, for them to find information.
  • Real time relevancy. The information must be useful — not only today but, in the age of apps, useful at this very minute.

Blueprints to Create Youtility

Having established the three facets of Youtility as guiding principles, Baer then offers a step-by-step blueprint for “creating” Youtility. The first step, not surprisingly, is understanding customers’ needs. Baer urges companies to use the technology available today — including social chatter and web analytics — to determine exactly what needs customers are looking to fulfill through their purchases. Mapping customer needs to useful marketing is the next step and involves how to best convey the information. “Determining the optimal conveyance mechanism requires a level of research beyond understanding customer needs,” Baer writes.

The third step in creating Youtility is to market your marketing. In other words, promote the useful information your company is pulling together. If you have an app, make sure the app is promoted on your website, describe the app in your email marketing and even create a related YouTube video. The fourth step is to insource Youtility, which refers to getting a wide variety of employees involved in the “useful information” effort. Whether this involvement is voluntary, assisted, mandatory or even circumstantial depends on the situation.

A Process, Not a Project

Baer also urges companies to “make Youtility a process, not a project.” Youtility must be an ongoing program for a number of reasons, including shifting customer needs as well as technology advances, he writes. Finally, companies need to keep score; they should use different categories of measurement — including consumption and sales metrics — to gauge the effectiveness of the effort. Admittedly, the return on investment may not always be easy to calculate.

Baer’s book is a detailed, very well-organized manual for adapting marketing to the parameters of today’s world of information avalanche. At the beginning of the book, Baer writes, “If you sell something, you make a customer today. If you help someone, you make a customer for life.” Youtility will help guide you in making more customers for life.