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Agile Innovation Begins and Ends with the Customer

Posted by Kathy Ofsthun

Tue, May 01, 2018

collaborating-2

It’s a daunting reality for today’s executives: consumers can provide feedback with the tap of a finger. Just ask United Airlines about the havoc social media can wreak. On the flip side, this empowerment is also a tremendous opportunity for innovators.

I believe we’re lucky to be innovating at a time when it’s so easy for customers to give us their ideas and feedback. Collaborating with customers at the front end of innovation is critical to building truly customer-centric products and services, making the most of your innovation dollars, and mitigating the risk of a public backlash or loss of brand trust and equity.

What starts at the front end can move through an agile process of ideation and development, one that integrates the customer through roll-out, communications, measurement and optimization.

At CMB, we help clients innovate through a Design Thinking framework—including the customer in all phases: Empathize/Define/Ideate/Prototype/Test. As Jeff Immelt, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, urged the crowd of engineers and designers at last week’s Front End of Innovation Conference (FEI), it’s critical to “accelerate customers through the business model”.

As CMB’s VP of Strategy + Innovation, it was gratifying to hear that at FEI, “customer” wasn’t just a buzzword. In fact, there was an entire track devoted to “Customer Driven Innovation.”  In another keynote address, Dr. Peter Koen of the Stevens Institute of Technology, lectured on the incremental innovation that often comes from internal-only ideation—disruptive innovation comes from users, not corporations.” Consistent with that, manufacturing giant 3M has found its user-generated products are eight times more profitable than products generated internally.

Here’s how we incorporate Agile and Design Thinking to include customers at every phase:

  • Empathize: As you obsess your target, research and share all you know about them.
  • Define: A clear understanding of your target and their needs will help to inform a clear definition of the problem that needs solving. It answers, “What are the ‘jobs to be done’?” At least three presentations at FEI quoted Albert Einstein: If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
  • Ideate: You might not find inspiration inside the halls of your office. Instead, we take you and your customers into a creative space for an engaging and collaborative workshop that utilizes System I and System II thinking. We diverge and converge to elicit dozens of new ideas, then narrow the list and envision the path forward.
  • Prototype: This begins during the ideation workshops. We use an illustrator at your workshop who can visually record the day’s conversation and progress—sketching the ideas that teams have brainstormed.
  • Test: Test qualitatively as you build out ideas with customers. Then, test quantitatively as you move towards commercialization.

Some organizations are more open to the principles of Design Thinking than others. So how can you prepare your organization for this? Encourage an environment grounded in collaboration, where failure is expected (not just accepted) and humility is rewarded. Design Thinking is more than a process—it’s a mindset.

Contact us to learn how to tackle innovation with your customers.

Kathy Ofsthun is the VP of Qualitative Strategy + Innovation for CMB. Her favorite vacation destination is Cambodia and her favorite class is Philosophy.

 

Topics: qualitative research, growth and innovation, agile research

What Amazon Can Teach Us About Delivering on Customer Loyalty

Posted by Ashley Harrington

Wed, Apr 25, 2018

 

amazon packages (resized)

I live in a historic Boston neighborhood rich in restaurants and charm, but poor in parking. If you have a car, you have two choices: spend a fortune on a dedicated monthly parking spot or drive in circles until you find free street parking.  I don’t like to waste money or time, so I don’t own a car.

I don’t own a car, but I do have two kids. So, I need stuff and I need it all the time. Enter, Amazon.

I use Amazon on all my devices and have multiple apps. I use it for both planned purchases and impulse buys. I Subscribe and Save for everything from baby wipes to granola bars. I order groceries from Amazon Fresh. I try on clothes with Amazon Wardrobe. I buy e-books. I watch movies and TV shows on Prime. I use Now to get emergency toddler bribes delivered in an hour.

On top of all that, I pay Amazon for the privilege of buying things with them with an annual Prime membership. If that’s not the ultimate sign of customer loyalty, I don’t know what is.

If I was responding to an Amazon loyalty study, I would certainly make it into the “Super User” group, checking all the boxes for how we might define loyalty: frequency of purchases, cross shopping, willingness to try new categories, likelihood to recommend, etc. 

My “Super User” status didn’t happen all at once—it was gradual thanks to the “Amazon Effect.” Over time, Amazon plucked one more category of our household expenses from another retailer.

I work with clients every day to help measure, understand, and improve their customer loyalty. While few companies have the infrastructure and the sheer breadth of product and services in such a frictionless way, there are lessons any brand can learn from Amazon’s excellence in curating a faithful customer base.

 Here’s how Amazon keeps me loyal:

  • Anticipates my needs: I wasn’t actively thinking about how great life would be with a paper towel subscription. But, I gave Subscribe and Save a shot and now we never run out and I can't imagine my household without it.
  • Gives me back my time: With Fresh, I can enjoy time with my family instead of spending it in the grocery store (if you enjoy taking your children to the grocery store, I nominate you for a Parent-of-the-Year Award!)
  • Provides me with flawless execution and problem resolution: Amazon’s apps and website are easy, fast, and intuitive. Once I order something, I know exactly when it’ll arrive on my doorstep. If there is an error, Amazon’s customer experience team is polite and fair in resolving an issue.

While I am a loyal customer, there are certain things I don’t buy on Amazon. Some because they aren’t sold (yet) (e.g., wine) and others because I enjoy shopping elsewhere. And there are Amazon services that aren’t for me. For example, I don’t need to tell Alexa to turn on my lights.

 So, even for this Super User, loyalty has its limits.

 Ashley Harrington is a Research Director at CMB who recently starting using “Amazon” as a verb and probably has goldfish crackers in her bag.

Topics: brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, retail, ecommerce

NASCAR Races to Stay Relevant for the Next Generation

Posted by Brian Jones

Wed, Apr 18, 2018

As a stock car racing fan who makes an annual pilgrimage to the Daytona 500, I’ve experienced the evolution of the NASCAR brand from the seats of the iconic 2.5-mile track.

No place is the emotional connection between brand and customer more palpable than at an event where drivers enter the stadium in a gladiator-style procession before climbing into their cars for a 200+ mph chariot-like battle on a 31-degree banked asphalt track.

NASCAR 1

It is exhilarating.

But while NASCAR excels at creating an emotional experience for its current loyal fan base, the organization is challenged to deliver a branding experience that will attract the next generation of fans—while how people consume sports continues to evolve.

On top of that, NASCAR must motivate existing and new fans to view/attend/buy not only its own brand, but the myriad co-sponsors.

NASCAR is built on cobranded endorsements on all levels—including individual athletes (e.g., Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon), teams (e.g., logo-plastered M&M’s Toyota racecar), tracks (e.g., Lowe’s Motor Speedway), and even the race series themselves (e.g., NASCAR’s Xfinity Series). More recently, at the 2017 Daytona 500, NASCAR rolled out Monster Energy NASCAR Cup SeriesTM—the latest sponsor of the premiere racing series.

So how is NASCAR adapting to meet changing consumer demands?

  • Less prominent onsite branding: At the 2017 and 2018 Daytona 500’s, gone were the prominent product swag and logo placements of its former series sponsors, Sprint (2008-2016), Nextel (2004-2007), and NASCAR’s 31-year relationship with RJ Reynolds (1971-2003). In its place, I witnessed Monster Energy bringing its next generation youthful appeal—less signage and more experiential, like offering fans ride-alongs on off-road vehicles.
  • New marketing channels: NASCAR is supplementing real-time coverage with exciting social media experiences geared towards the digital-savvy generation of younger driver-athletes.
  • Improved customer experience: The International Speedway Corporation (ISC) has invested $400+ million in a venue retool of Daytona’s Speedway and the surrounding property to improve fan experience.
  • Investment in content strategy: NASCAR recently created a Content Strategy Group to centralize its creative, digital, social marketing, and advertising operations.
  • Revamp of scoring system: Perhaps the most surprising change is NASCAR’s recent revamp of its point system. In 2017 NASCAR rewrote the rules for how drivers compete and earn championship points during the season. No other major sport has changed its product so completely in response to changing consumer opinion about how they want to experience their sports entertainment.

At the time of the Monster Energy deal announcement in 2017, Mitch Covington, Monster’s VP of Sports Marketing said, "I think you'll see a little more Monster at the Daytona 500. But at the same time, the sponsorship's not about painting it all green. It's really about doing some really cool things with sponsorship."

NASCAR 2

But last week, NASCAR and Monster Energy announced it’s “highly unlikely” the partnership will continue beyond the 2019 race season—a sign NASCAR is reevaluating its current sponsorship model.

To simplify sponsorship opportunities for brands, NASCAR may bundle its top sponsorship with the sanctioning body to include the tracks and tv partners, omitting series naming rights which has been used in the past.

NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Steve Phelps told ESPN, “Our competitive advantage is that our fans understand the importance of sponsorship and they go out and support our sponsors… we just think there’s a better model to make sure that sponsors want to stay involved more broadly.”

The future of NASCAR’s sponsorship model is still unknown, but Covington’s quote sums up their efforts. For sponsorship to be effective, NASCAR must strike a balance between honoring what fans have always loved about the NASCAR brand (+ sponsors) while embracing innovation and change.

Brian is a loyal NASCAR fan who also enjoys helping clients solve their biggest business needs using advanced market research methodologies like CMB’s Brand FX— a solution that measures the social, emotional, and functional benefits a brand provides to customers.

Topics: brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, BrandFx

How L.L. Bean Weathers Customer Loyalty

Posted by Nicole Battaglia

Wed, Apr 11, 2018

 LL Bean Boots_cropped

Sorry outdoor apparel fans, L.L. Bean isn’t accepting your beat-up duck boots anymore. The Maine-based outdoor retailer recently ended its flagship Lifetime Return Policy.

 L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood Bean introduced this policy over 100 years ago to prove their commitment to quality products and ensure customer satisfaction. And since then, generations of Bean-loving customers have enjoyed the forgiving policy.

But not everyone’s been so kind. A growing number of customers have taken advantage of L.L. Bean’s generosity by treating it more like a free exchange policy. According to the Associated Press, the company has lost $250 million on returned items that cannot be salvaged or resoled in the last five years alone!

From a financial perspective, this move makes sense. But the loyal Bean boot enthusiast and market researcher in me is curious about potential branding implications—will this alienate lifelong customers who might view this as L.L. Bean as “breaking its promise”?

For more than 100 years, L.L. Bean has built its brand image around “designing products that make it easier for families of all kinds to spend time outside together”. Enduring Northeast winters as a kid, I can vouch for the quality of their products—they are truly second to none. L.L. Bean isn’t ‘cheap’, but I don’t balk at their prices because I know I’m getting something proven to withstand harsh winters.

But, my loyalty for L.L. Bean runs deeper than the quality of my boots. Growing up in a Bean-loving home, I have a strong emotional connection to the brand.  I have memories of flipping through the catalog (back when that was the popular way to shop) and getting excited about when it was time to order a new backpack and matching lunchbox—monogrammed, of course.

When I’m home for the holidays, I head out to the local L.L. Bean store to make my holiday gift purchases. In 2015, L.L. Bean featured a golden retriever puppy on the cover of its holiday catalogue. As someone who grew up with goldens, this ad resonated with me on an emotional level.

I also strongly identify with other L.L. Bean enthusiasts. Most kids I grew up with had the monogrammed backpacks, and when I went to college, everyone wore Bean boots. My image of the typical customer is clear, relatable and socially desirable—the three aspects of social and self-identity that drive purchase and loyalty.

 When it comes to analyzing a brand’s performance, it’s critical to look at the complete picture and account for the identity, emotional, and functional benefits it provides. For me, the functional benefits (e.g. keeps my feet dry during a Nor’easter) L.L. Bean provides me are undeniably important; however, the emotional and identity benefits ultimately rank higher.

 I can’t speak for every customer, but the move to end their Lifetime Return Policy won’t keep me from shopping at L.L. Bean. Yes, it’s a shame the retailer had to rescind its signature guarantee—one that underscores their commitment to the quality of their products. 

But, it’s a powerful lesson for brands in an increasingly disrupted age: the strength of the benefits you provide your customer—social, emotional, and functional—can mean the difference between weathering the storm and keeping and growing your customers.

Nicole Battaglia is a Sr. Associate Researcher who isn’t pleased she’s had to wear her Bean boots into April this year.

Topics: customer experience and loyalty, Identity, AffinID, emotion, BrandFx

Telling Your Insights Story: Reflections from a 2018 Qually Award Finalist

Posted by Kelsey Segaloff

Wed, Apr 04, 2018

Earlier this year, I ditched snowy Boston for the Qualitative Research Consultants Annual Conference in sunny Phoenix. I’d been to the conference before, but this year was particularly special because I was a 2018 Qually Award Finalist—a competition that challenges researchers to demonstrate a creative approach to problem solving.

In the competition, we were asked to respond to a client RFP. The three finalists then were invited to present our proposals to a live audience at the conference. While I didn’t win the competition, it was an incredible opportunity to challenge myself to think creatively about how we can approach qualitative research.

Since working in the industry, I’ve learned that storytelling—finding and communicating the story from the data—is one of the most important skills a researcher can have. It’s our job to dig into the data and create a compelling narrative so that our clients have relatable and actionable insights.

I wanted to incorporate storytelling into my proposal in an unconventional way. So rather than looking at how other researchers tell stories, I looked outward—how are people telling and consuming stories in everyday life?

One of the most powerful and culturally-relevant ways stories are shared today is through podcasts. I listen to them every day on my way to work, so I thought, “Why not create an insights podcast?”

I proposed taking the audio gathered from in-person interviews, ethnographies, shop-a-longs, etc., and piecing them together into a podcast. It’s a simple yet powerful way to tell an insights story.

Too often our minds default to a PowerPoint presentation when we talk about storytelling. But as you’ll see in the video below, inspiration for storytelling can come from anywhere:

Kelsey Segaloff is a Senior Qualitative Associate Researcher at CMB and an avid consumer of true crime and Bachelor-themed podcasts.

 

Topics: qualitative research, storytelling, conference recap

What Kind of Mother Are You?

Posted by Cara Lousararian

Wed, Mar 28, 2018

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People are quick to judge how we parent these days. No matter what you do, someone’s bound to have an opinion. And social media makes it especially hard where people can publicly shame and criticize parents from behind the veil of an Instagram handle.

This is one of the main reasons I stay away from social media.

But I’m not 100% immune from judgment because it happens every day in the real world. I often wonder what kind of mother I’m being labeled as based on my daughter’s appearance—from the clothes she wears and the toys she plays with to the stroller she rides in.

My daughter will have her first birthday this month, and in thinking about what I’d like to give her, I’m realizing that most of her gifts will be for my own benefit—what I think she’ll look cute in or what books I want to read.

The reality is, I’m shopping for myself.

As people, we gravitate towards brands that help us express and reinforce our identity. Each purchase decision is a statement of the kind of person we are—we’re always asking ourselves, “Am I the kind of person who uses ‘Brand X’?”

This principle also applies to parenting. For example, when we consider how to dress our children, we’re asking ourselves, “Am I the kind of parent whose child wears ‘Brand Y’?” How I dress my daughter says as much about me as a mother as it does her.

Until my daughter is old enough to dress herself (and I hope that day is a long way off!) she’s an extension of who I am as a parent.

So, for her first birthday, I will choose brands that reinforce who I am as a mother. I’m down-to-earth and don’t need my daughter wearing overpriced and “trendy” clothing, so I’ll gravitate towards brands designed for mothers like me.

Watch our recent webinar to learn more about how brands can provide identity, emotional, and functional benefits to build customer loyalty.

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Cara is a Senior Research Manager who is lucky to have such a fun, beautiful 1-year old daughter that doesn’t mind wearing Carter’s and reading books only about dogs. 

Topics: Identity, BrandFx

What’s in a Name: CVS-Aetna Acquisition Brand Strategy

Posted by Amy Modini

Tue, Mar 20, 2018

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Earlier this month, shareholders approved the $69 billion CVS-Aetna acquisition, marking one step closer to what would be the largest health insurance deal in history—far exceeding Express Scripts’ 2012 acquisition of Medco Health and  the CVS-Caremark Rx deal of 2006.

The CVS-Aetna announcement could dramatically reshape the healthcare industry.

From a brand strategy perspective, this acquisition is interesting because it involves two distinguished brands in the healthcare space—CVS is the country’s largest pharmacy while Aetna is the nation’s third largest healthcare provider.

Two powerful brands coming together

There are many layers to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), but developing a sound brand strategy is one of the most critical components of any agreement—especially when it involves two mega brands like CVS and Aetna.

Aligning on a brand strategy is as important as sorting out financials, operations, logistics, and everything else that comes with the complexities of this kind of deal.

The tricky part is there’s no prescribed framework for the “perfect” M&A brand strategy. How CVS and Aetna plan to proceed is still unclear—whether they remain separate, combine names, or land somewhere in the middle.

But there are several best practices to consider when developing an M&A brand strategy.

Brand strategy must match the business strategy

Why are you merging/acquiring? Is it to expand a geographical footprint? To fill a product or service gap? Whatever the reason, the “why” (e.g., the business strategy) MUST inform your brand strategy.

Dig into each brand to identify what the intrinsic qualities are and let those distinct value propositions guide your strategy.

Account for your audience(s)

Internal and external brand communications must align and support the overall brand strategy and should be tailored to each brand’s audience(s).

In the CVS and Aetna case, both brands touch many constituents—patients, employers, physicians, etc. The brand strategy must account for all these touchpoints and create messaging and experiences that meet each group’s specific expectations and needs.

Bring everyone to the table

M&A is a unique opportunity for brands to refresh their image. However, developing a lasting strategy should include employee input and buy-in from the top down.

Be transparent about the chosen brand path—ideally employees should be privy to changes ahead of time so they can begin to internalize the new brand promise.

Especially in the CVS-Aetna case, employees on the frontline who interact with patients and customers every day need to understand the chosen brand path to ensure a smooth and successful branding transition.

The branding gist

Whether it’s a $69 billion acquisition or the merging of two “mom and pop” shops, building a brand strategy is an integral piece of the M&A puzzle.

There’s no “right” way to approach this, but keeping in mind the business strategy, impacted audiences, and employee input will help make the development and implementation of an effective M&A brand strategy much smoother.

Topics: healthcare research, health insurance research, insurance research, brand health and positioning

The New Math of Media Disruption

Posted by Lynne Castronuovo

Tue, Mar 13, 2018

 

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During February’s Winter Olympics, NBC tried to measure exactly how many people tuned in to watch the games. This sounds like standard practice—and it is—but this time NBC strayed from the traditional Nielsen system by combining broadcast and cable channel viewership with streaming platform audiences to produce a single number—attempting to account for multichannel consumption

NBC isn’t the only one struggling to get a valid headcount. As I was reminded at last month’s Media Insights and Engagement Conference: no one in the media industry seems to be able to measure the crowd anymore.

The media and entertainment industry has been upended. Viewers are spread far and wide across devices, platforms, and time—no longer huddled around a single television set to watch primetime. We’ve said goodbye to the days of the standard 18-49 year old viewer group.

Further, the explosion of high quality, award-winning content from nontraditional producers like Hulu has fragmented audiences with niche tastes and demographics. There’s programming for nearly every interest.

Conversely, the meteoric rise of programs like Stranger Things underscores the emergence of programs that are beloved by a blend of demographics—from parents to young teens—making it increasingly challenging for advertisers to know what will resonate with such diverse audiences.

From splintering audiences to multichannel consumption, the disruption within the media industry is coming from all sides. It’s become harder for broadcasters to know who and how their content is being consumed and for advertisers to measure the ROI of ad spend. Data is coming in from a variety of sometimes incongruent sources, so it can be challenging to get the full picture.

The media industry needs researchers now more than ever to help uncover who, how, and why content is being consumed. Understanding the who, how, and why is critical for creating content and advertising that will resonate most with viewers and ensure advertisers are targeting  and reaching the right audience.

The changing media and entertainment landscape is daunting, but this is a tremendous opportunity for market researchers to innovate and rise to meet these new challenges. We can’t rely solely on traditional audience tracking methods—we need to dig deeper into the consumer psyche understand how media is being consumed.

The most successful researchers will be those who can balance the art and science of collecting insights—those who can parse vast amounts of data and stitch together a holistic story. I welcome these new challenges within the media and entertainment industry and encourage other researchers to help our clients face them head on.

 

Topics: digital media and entertainment research

Beer, Pot, Car Racing and More: A brief roundup of Quirks East 2018

Posted by Julie Kurd

Mon, Mar 05, 2018

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Here are a few learnings from last week's Quirk’s East Event in Brooklyn:

Measuring the success of Corona’s new nonlinear ads. Samrat Samran from AB InBev and Pranav Yadav from Neuro-Insight shared Corona’s advertisements that focus on the lime ritual. These “story fragments” equate the 'feeling' you get when a lime goes into the beer bottle with a surfer plunging into the water. To quantify success of a non-linear advertisement, they established guardrails on five key branding moments (brand memory, emotional intensity, and engagement etc.). Through this framework, they were able to see an increased recall on the second ad view because interestingly, a nonlinear story is challenging enough that the brain seizes on new aspects of the story in the second viewing.

Legal Cannabis is a Brand Innovation Game ChangerIn a time where many Fortune 500 companies are still asking for drug tests, it may not be intuitive to account for cannabis in your innovation pipeline—especially if you don’t work in the cannabis industry. But marijuana pairings are occurring beyond the music, snacks, etc., so it’s time to start paying attention to this growing category. In the BDS Analytics presentation, of those studied (28% were users, 34% were acceptors, and 38% were rejecters), almost everyone (including rejecters) universally accept some form of marijuana use as ‘acceptable’. And in this case, rejecters aren’t necessarily opponents, they just choose not to use. The cannabis market is diverse in generation, gender, and motivations—and likely will continue to grow in complexity.

NASCAR’s Passive Metering and Digital Media Tracking. NASCAR’s Norris Scott and Luth’s Candice Rab spoke about their behavior-based insights research. In the study, respondents downloaded an app that passively tracked behavior across devices—from PC, smartphone, and tablet. Integrating digital data with survey research helped contextualize participants’ behavior and shed light on the “why” behind attitudes and consumption of digital sports media among NASCAR fans and super-fans. Through this approach, NASCAR discovered that fans are also looking at a range of other sports content, such as ESPN, Yahoo Sports, etc., and half the fans use digital to enhance their race viewing experience.   

Gen Z (Tweens, Teens) and their Secret (Visual) Languages. Kids have always loved having secret languages that bonds and empowers them. Writing has given way to typing to tapping to snapping, per Stephanie Retblatt of SmartyPants. Text has morphed into videos, and videos to emojis, GIFs, memes, filters, and stickers. This evolution marks the significant shift in how kids and tweens experience emotions in ways that text hasn’t kept up with. “Animoji” and “Bitmoji” are part of a new visual curation brought to us by Snapchat.

Changing role of Artificial Intelligence in research. Whether you’re a F500 company or a Consumer Insights firm, Peter Mackey of Wizer says we need to take AI seriously. Peter showed how a chasm is starting to build between client reality (speed over quality, tighter budgets) and traditional consumer insights. In traditional insights, qualified thinkers brainstorm with you, frame the challenge, and craft the research design—all of which is time intensive. These days, budget-conscious marketers have resorted to DIY surveys, templated survey automation, human supervised/semi-automated coding and transcription. Today, we’re all experimenting with AI in market research world (#MRX):

  • Input – Automating the survey
  • Data Processing – quantitative and qualitative quality control such as respondent fraud detection algorithms
  • Output – positive findings in green and negative in red.  Natural language interpretation.
Co-Creation and the Future of Loyalty & Rewards with the Hilton. To break out of the “sea of sameness”, executives and consumers can come together to ideate innovative solutions using a co-creation approach. My company, CMB, presented with our client, Jessica Boothe of Hilton, on a recent co-creation session that explored the future of Global Loyalty and Rewards programs. Hilton has renovated its rewards program, simplifying both the earn and the burn aspects of rewards. This co-creation initiative discovered and re-discovered potential new emotional and functional rewards for both elite and non-elite members of the Honors program.      

Whether you always have a travel bag to unpack, or you ‘never get to go anywhere,’ learning is always available to everyone. Sign up for our upcoming webinar on Wednesday, 3/7 at 12pm ET.

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Topics: conference recap

Employee Appreciation: The Importance of Providing Emotional Benefits

Posted by Heather Magaw

Wed, Feb 28, 2018

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An organization’s people are its most valuable assets.

And in today’s job competitive market, companies finding and retaining top talent need to go beyond “benefits” like ping-pong tables and yoga classes. These tangible perks look great, but on their own they won’t foster employee loyalty and motivate productivity.

A key to a corporate culture that inspires and motivates employees is ongoing appreciation—showing gratitude each and every day. Providing emotional benefits (e.g., feeling appreciated and valued) is one of the most important things a company can do for its employees—in addition to providing functional benefits (e.g., free lunches).

But identifying what employees truly value and what makes them feel appreciated can be challenging. It requires a thoughtful approach to understanding human behavior and acknowledging our intrinsic desire to be recognized, celebrated, and appreciated every day.

At CMB, we found that our employees feel more appreciated by intangible, personal gestures like:

  • Receiving an email of appreciation from a client
  • Finding a “thank you” post-it from a colleague stuck to the desk
  • Getting a handwritten thank you note in your company mailbox
  • Seeing an email of acknowledgement to a manager about an employee’s unique contribution

These small acts of kindness and appreciation can speak louder than a free lunch or Summer Fridays. They are thoughtful, meaningful, and make employees truly feel valued for the work they do.

Springing for a midafternoon ice cream party is a lot easier than encouraging busy colleagues to take the time to write personal notes. But, I challenge leadership teams to foster workplace environments that practice ongoing appreciation. As Stephen R. Covey once said, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

In an upcoming webinar, join Erica Carranza, PhD., and learn how building meaningful connections promotes workplace satisfaction and productivity.

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Heather Magaw is VP, Client Services at CMB. She challenges each reader to write 5 emails or notes of appreciation on Friday, March 2, Employee Appreciation Day.

 

Topics: our people, emotional measurement, emotion