Charles Porteous, President and Founder, Seefeld Group
with Jane Stanbury
Jane Stanbury talks to Charles Porteous, President and Founder of Seefeld Group a “voice of the customer” consultancy helping aviation companies to make better decisions and grow revenues through enhanced understanding of their market, their customers and themselves.
Your company’s projects can last for months at a time, how have you continued with ongoing activity during this period?
While the world is on pause, we are in an unusual position as in many ways there is nothing significantly impeding the continuation of Seefeld Group’s research and analysis projects. In fact, initial evidence suggests that industry colleagues now have more time and want to share their views.
It seems that despite the social distancing and travel restrictions the need to talk about the industry, and feel part of it, remains strong. There is a willingness to share opinions which is buoyed up by the isolation. Ironically, it’s turning out to be quite a good time to learn more about the industry and gather rich data.
How are you managing during the crisis - what has changed for Seefeld Group?
Surprisingly little has changed as we predominantly communicate remotely with our customers, survey respondents and partners across the globe. The major change has been how we present findings.
|Our role is to really analyse the information, look for trends and interpret the voice of the customer. This output and direction gives our clients the ability to make significant business decisions, whether it be about product development, marketing or launching a new service. These debriefs are intense and extremely focused. Being in the same room to present and discuss the research results is preferable.||
Charles Porteous is a dedicated and professional marketer with 25+ years of international experience leading strategic planning, customer satisfaction, market research, forecasting, and brand audit initiatives for leading aviation corporations and organizations around the globe.
Video and internet technology are great, but it can’t fully replace being in the same room and getting into the nitty gritty of what the data means to our clients’ business. Nonetheless, our current customers, which include OEMs, supply chain and service delivery organisations are continuing projects, and some are even starting new ones!
What kind of changes have you noticed in customer attitudes/behaviours ?
In terms of customer engagement, we are receiving queries from a number of contacts we have spoken to previously who now have a sense of urgency about understanding the new market conditions and how these will impact their business. In addition, a number of our current customers that began research projects before the crisis are now asking for insights as soon as possible. They want to use the downtime to do strategic planning and avoid playing catch-up once we come out of lockdown mode.
I’ve noticed that the industry as a whole is very motivated. Its more interactive than ever and everyone wants to share what they are seeing and hearing. The fabulous webinars that media like AIN and CJI are hosting seem to be exceptionally popular right now. In this spirit, “voice of the customer” research offers a similar approach with the opportunity to share thoughts and views with people who want to know them. However, it is different in that it is tailored exclusively for an individual business, and the collated data can be used to navigate the business landscape during and after the crisis. Our confidential data collection methodologies are essentially there to provide accurate, objective, clear and actionable data which can validate and more deeply explore the issues that public forums may or may not bring up.
Beyond the desire to share information, we see countries and their aviation markets adopting a more national orientation. As we emerge from this pandemic, domestic transactions will win out initially. Conducting business in your own country appears to be easier for the foreseeable future, and that may have some interesting outcomes which will need exploring.
What will be the benefits of an enhanced understanding of the market in the new norm ?
When we enter the new norm, industry needs to ensure it has the right product offering and marketing message. Understanding the customer perspective and what their needs are can help establish and define this. This improved understanding provides a platform from which a business can leverage the voice of the customer to add more value. As one of many examples, I’m not sure how many charter companies would have been so focused on a marketing message of “cleanliness” pre-COVID19, but I anticipate superior hygiene standards will become a critical feature going forward. How will customers evaluate providers on this, and what specifically are the looking for?
Why is now a good time to explore research and how it can add value to your business ?
Along with customer behaviour, there are a number of different evolving forces at play right now, particularly socially and economically, with uncertain net outcomes. Now is the time start looking past the immediate crisis out to the new world horizon and establish what is going to impact the viability of every enterprise. As organisations review their operations, research can help guide continued success and avoid unintended consequences. It reveals how and why the new environment is changing consumer desire. The marketplace will be looking through a new set of lens.
What are you looking forward to when we come out the other side?
I miss directly engaging face to face with my colleagues, customers and the market-place whether it be through conferences, workshops, presentations, focus groups, or social events. As an international industry, we really do like to engage with each other which is why the industry events are always so interesting. I think whoever hosts the first cocktail parties at NBAA this year will have an amazing turn out! The appetitive for engaging with customers, partners, and potential clients firsthand will be voracious.
BlueSky Business Aviation News | 23rd April 2020 | Issue #554
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