Transforming the Research Function Into a Consulting Agency at HPE

Since splitting from Hewlett Packard Inc. in 2015, HPE has undergone mangy changes. Amidst this growth, Paul Logue, HPE’s Vice President of Growth Analytics, Market Insights and Customer Experience, has been tasked with understanding and anticipating customers’ needs, which, like most things in the tech space, are changing fast.

Charles Trevail

CEO at C Space

Since splitting from Hewlett Packard Inc. in 2015, HPE has undergone several acquisitions and “spin-merges” – essentially, merging segments of HPE’s business with other companies to form new ones. Amidst this growth, Paul Logue, HPE’s Vice President of Growth Analytics, Market Insights and Customer Experience, has been tasked with understanding and anticipating customers’ needs, which, like most things in the tech space, are changing fast.

“We are the hub of what’s going on from a customer perspective,” he says of his team. “We’ve greatly expanded the role we’re playing as we’ve started to be part of this transformation.”

Along with 100 global team members, Paul unearths hidden insights and advocates on behalf of customers. Just don’t call them the research department. According to Paul, who joined me on the latest episode of the Outside In podcast, they operate as an agency model within the company. Here’s how they’re doing it.

Subscribe to the Outside In podcast:

Integrate all sources of customer information to deliver “actionable intelligence”

By fusing customer experience, insights, and data analytics, Paul has created a uniquely integrated service model within HPE. His “clients” are internal business divisions, like sales and marketing. “They don’t want data, they want actionable intelligence,” he explains. “They want triggers, and they want to know specifically, ‘What do I need to do with a given company or with a given market?’”

All of that takes a diverse set of skills. Paul’s team can give a 360-degree view of all the places the customer is engaging with HPE to discover what’s working and what’s not. “You have to be ambidextrous in your capabilities,” he says. “Every single person on our team is building cross-skills, so that nobody is exempt from having that consultative skill.”

Each is trained to look at data, synthesize it, and find the insights that matter. “You can’t just have data. You have to have the data and the consultative [ability to] connect the dots to tell the story.”

Condition the organization to work with you as an agency partner

Building an internal agency isn’t without its challenges. One of the biggest, Paul says, is conditioning your company and your clients to think of you differently. “You’re not a go-fetch, desk-side research firm,” Paul asserts. “You are an agency.”

One of the very first things you do when working with an agency is brief them on the challenge or project at hand. Paul’s team has developed an insight agenda process centered on a briefing document that kicks off every project with probing questions, such as: What decision are we trying to drive? What hypothesis are we exploring? What does success look like? And, Paul’s favorite: How is my team going to work with your team collaboratively on the implementation?

“Once you get people to think about you differently,” he says, “good things start to happen.”

The power of no

“Where I choose to invest is where it provides the best impact for the company,” Paul says. And part of that impact requires saying one small yet powerful word: no.

“If you’re not saying no, you’re doing something wrong,” he says. Paul knows his team can’t be everywhere all the time, so he has built self-service tools to empower stakeholders. “If you don’t have an always-on insight platform, you can’t release your team to do the consultative work,” he says.

For example, Market Vision is a curated, self-service platform employees can access for insights, content, and research. And the Account Health Index is “a green light, yellow light, red light” indicator of each account’s performance. “We know when things are good and when things need to be addressed really early on,” Paul says.

Remember that customers are emotional. Even tech buyers.

Paul has looked to other industries, like CPG, to shape his philosophy about running insights inside a large organization. He learned that many companies are “spending a lot of time on ethnography and the mindset of their buyer and the emotional ramifications of those decisions.”

That same level of understanding is useful for tech companies like HPE. For example, Paul’s team discovered that IT leaders have to say no more than a third of the time, for lots of different reasons. “When they do [say no],” Paul says, “we found that 77% of the time there was a strong negative emotion involved.” IT is a stressful job, with many departments “in foundational transformation”; therefore, the buying process is more emotional than many people may realize.

Paul ends on a cautionary note. “There is an incredible level of emotion, and B2B companies like HPE better pay attention to that and understand how to help our customers with that emotion.”

You may be interested in:

Scott Belsky of Adobe & Behance: “The Messy Middle”

Scott Belsky of Adobe & Behance: “The Messy Middle” Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: We often hear stories about the genesis of a brilliant idea. Or we celebrate we the end result of a big, creative endeavor. But what about all the stuff that happens...

Stop & Shop Debuts Ads Focusing on Empathy

Stop & Shop Debuts Ads Focusing on Empathy

Progressive Grocer

The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC has teamed with customer agency C Space on an advertising campaign, “You Got It,” featuring documentary-style TV commercials in which real customers go about their busy daily lives – and how the grocer can help them get stuff done.

Stop & Shop ad campaign spotlights ‘real people’

Stop & Shop ad campaign spotlights ‘real people’

by Russell Redman 
Supermarket News

Stop & Shop is supporting the launch of a major store refresh program with an advertising campaign reflecting the chain’s customer-centric strategy. Called “You Got It,” the campaign takes a real-people approach in showing how Stop & Shop helps on-the-go customers navigate their daily routines so they could spend more time with their families. The documentary-style campaign, developed by Boston-based customer agency C Space, kicked off on television, radio, online video and out-of-home media on Friday in Connecticut and on Monday in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.

Getting into consumers’ mindset: five emotional cues that drive sales and loyalty

Getting into consumers’ mindset: five emotional cues that drive sales and loyalty

by Sasha Fedorenko 
Internet Retailing

Consumers that find retailers’ using the same set of emotional factors in their services found in strong human relationships including the relevance of experiences, ease of shopping, transparency in communications, understanding their needs and preferences and emotional rewards for their loyalty-are likely to spend and stay loyal, suggests a study by C Space.

5 Retailers With the Best Customer Experiences of 2018

5 Retailers With the Best Customer Experiences of 2018

by Jamie Grill-Goodman
RIS News

Trader Joe’s offers the best retail customer experiences of 2018, as revealed by a study from C Space. The study demonstrates that it’s the emotional aspects of customer experience that help companies stand out from the competition and create growth.

Randall Lane, Forbes: ‘Drama Critics of Capitalism’

Randall Lane, Forbes: ‘Drama Critics of Capitalism’ Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Randall Lane has interviewed the world’s power players. Jeff Bezos, Emmanuel Macron, Donald Trump. Just to name a few. Now we’re interviewing him. As the chief content...

Nordstrom, Sephora among leaders in consumer connection

Nordstrom, Sephora among leaders in consumer connection

Luxury Daily

Department store chain Nordstrom is among the brands offering the best customer service experiences and emotional connectivity, according to a new report by global customer agency C Space.

Leading the Way for Customer Experience

Leading the Way for Customer Experience

Jet2.com

The [Customer, Experienced.] report by C Space shows that Jet2.com is the 5th best company for delivering a great customer experience. The study is based on almost 6,000 UK consumers who shared their opinions on more than 1,000 companies. The study asked customers to rate the companies against 21 emotional cues, including ‘They notice and appreciate my loyalty’, ‘They Understand My Needs’ and ‘They Make Customer Experience the Number One Job’.

Trader Joe’s, Costco, ALDI seen as experience leaders

Trader Joe’s, Costco, ALDI seen as experience leaders

SmartBrief

Trader Joe’s, Costco and ALDI do a great job connecting with customers emotionally and get high ratings on customer experience as a result, according to a study from the C Space agency. Consumers perceive these stores as superior when it comes to sharing their values, such as appreciating their loyalty, the report says.

The brands with the best customer experiences are…

The brands with the best customer experiences are…

Chain Store Age

Trader Joe’s, L.L.Bean, and Nordstrom were the retail brands the scored the highest in a report on the best customer experiences of 2018 by global customer agency C Space, a division of Interbrand Group of Companies. Amazon, Costco, REI, Bath & Body Works, Sephora and Aldi also made the top 25. (St.Jude Children’s Hospital was No. 1.)