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Brick by brick: Rebuilding the LEGO Group by rediscovering customer centricity

Every time I see a LEGO Store or even just a single brick, it brings back warm memories of digging into the big tub of LEGO pieces that my brother and I had in our playroom. We’d spend hours creating imaginary worlds and testing our engineering skills. The LEGO brand is iconic in that way.

Lego

That’s why it’s hard for many people to imagine that the LEGO Group nearly went bankrupt a decade ago. How could such a beloved company nearly go out of business? It’s a simple and unfortunately common story: The company expanded too far beyond its core brick products to theme parks, clothing, television shows and many other projects, and most of these expansions proved to be costly distractions.

Lego's Conny KalcherThe company’s return to profitability came from refocusing on its core: the bricks and the people who love to build with them. Conny Kalcher, vice president of marketing and consumer experiences at the LEGO Group, played a central role in helping it reconnect with its biggest fans: children. When Conny and I met up for our most recent episode of the Net Promoter System Podcast, she reflected on that experience and others from her 29 years at the LEGO Group.

“There was solid evidence that we weren’t hitting it with kids,” Conny says about those dark years. “We had to get back to innovation based on what kids wanted.”

First, the company had to find out what children actually wanted. Before it introduced the Net Promoter System, the intuition of engineers and designers drove LEGO’s innovation process. The company also relied on annual surveys about its brand appeal, which were deceptively positive. If people loved the company so much, why weren’t they buying new sets?

The LEGO Group started collecting a consistent stream of Net Promoter feedback to find out why certain LEGO sets failed to wow young consumers. The high-velocity feedback allowed the company to adjust its approach and make critical improvements earlier in the process—for example, tweaking a model that customers noted was stubbornly askew.

Conny says that Net Promoter gave the company a shared language that it could use to evaluate its products and that the system helped the company bring about broader culture change. Teams became more collaborative in working toward the ultimate goal of delighting customers. Members of LEGO’s insights team were not only responsible for collecting customer feedback, they were expected to advise departments as they turned input into action.

The LEGO Group now uses Net Promoter throughout the company, even in its retail stores, where customers can provide immediate feedback about their shopping experiences.

To hear Conny tell more of LEGO’s story, you can listen to the latest episode of the Net Promoter System Podcast on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to browse more Net Promoter System Podcast episodes.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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