Jan 02, 2008

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Monetary Bribes do not Customer Service Make... I have just spoken to my best friend who has had a dreadful time with Carphone Warehouse on her mobile contract. The bill has consistently been incorrect and not to the contract price...she has now come to the end of the contract so went into store and said that she wanted to end the contract. The store offered a couple of great deals to try and keep her but she said that no money would change her mind because she wanted to be treated as a valued customer i.e she wanted service not freebies. The man asked her if someone could ring her and she said yes....True to their word they phoned. A Carphone Warehouse guy said "Ok what will it take to keep you?" She explained it was not about money, it was about being listened to, about receiving acceptable customer service....guess what happened next? The guy promptly put the phone down! Clearly he did not have a superb contract deal that would solve that problem :) She said she was so frustrated that when she met her friends she told them, she told me, she told her family - (imagine how many people's perceptions of that brand have been affected this weekend?)......in this modern world, advertising is the price of having to cover up for the actual brand experience. The interesting part for me, was that she wanted to be valued, she was not money focused..in fact what she was saying was "I don't want free as that gives you an excuse for unacceptable service..I want to pay but in return you value my custom..." Brands are not and never will be built on who has the largest advertising budget, they will be built on who has the ability to deliver consistently on their brand promise in store, not on paper.
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5 Brand Tips for 2008 As we enter 2008, the values of brand building will always stay the same - consistent delivery of those brand values to your community. However, as we enter 2008 the transparency and visibility of your brand makes you accountable to a global audience. Here are 5 tips for brands in 2008 B = Bravery - for me social media is about being brave. Be open to feedback, be open to a few mistakes, be open to allowing access for your employees, be clear that control over the conversation was never possible - only being part of the conversation. R = Realistic. Forget measurement to begin with! Know that sounds alien but I believe you have to get out there first, then use trial and error...anything new will look bad measurement wise...see measurement as a medium term assessment tool not short term. Find your feet then start to measure. A = Assortment. The generational differences mean that you need an assortment of ways to reach your audience. Understand where your consumers and potential customers are, and reach out in with the appropriate tools for them NOT you. Consumers need variety, both in communication methods and message. Remember, with all the tools, it is the RSS that is key to consumer loyalty and engagement. N = Newness is incredibly important. People have so much choice that if you don't constantly surprise them, someone else will. Newness combined with that feeling of personalization, is a powerful attractor for consumers. Remember the community will collaborate to create the newness or the ideas for the future...collaborate to keep the ideas relevant and fresh. Gone are the days when you had to come up with all the ideas! D = Don't think that marketing has changed, it hasn't. It is about connecting with people who would be suited to your products/services and building trust over time. Word of mouth has been there since the old market days. The only difference relates to the tools available. So educate your teams on what is now available, education reduces fear of the unknown. No need to fear new marketing, more be excited by the new tools available to the company.

Anna Farmery

Social Marketing Architect, Speaker, Author and in spare time completing PhD on the future of the social business model

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