Thursday, 15 August 2013

Customers Talk

Customers Talk
"Everybody's talking about me. I don't hear a word they're saying, Only the echoes of my mind.
People stopping staring, I can't see their faces, Only the shadows of their eyes."
(Harry Nilsson)

What’s happening...
Customers talk. They talk a lot and they talk to each other. Often about us. And we can’t control it.

So what?
When they talk they are honest. About us. About what we do and how we do it and what they think about us,

Some quick examples

- HSBC withdraw graduate loan fees imposed arbitrarily when Facebook group gets over 1,000 members in one week 

- Eurotunnel have to rethink entire customer service strategy after Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns culminate in and similar websites 

- Hotels get caught trying to ‘fix ‘ their TripAdvisor reviews and shoot themselves in the foot 

- United Airways get flamed by one unhappy customer who gets over 1 million hits 

We all know the social media hype: “everyone is a media outlet”. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus’s exponential and meteoric rises are cited as to why everyone must get involved but this misses the point.

The reality
“Interruption Marketing” no longer works. Gone are the days when you stick up an advert and people will buy from you. If only those days were to come back.

A quick sense check

- Advertising revenues are plummeting in all media

- 76% of people don’t believe that advertisers tell the truth, ie they lie! (Yankelowitch)

- 78% of people trust the recommendations of other people, ie word of mouth rules! (Yankelowitch)
And the word we are looking for here is TRUST. You need to create a relationship where they trust you.

A ratchet point
A shift away from believing that corporations know best and work in our interests has taken place. Years of capitalist exploitation of the masses has created a cynical and distrustful consumer. This is not some green anti-capitalist stance but a fact of life for the foreseeable future.

For instance, how can ‘the people’ ever trust:

- Politicians with their
expense claims?

Ratners and their self-confessed ‘crap products’?

Ryanair and the Vulgar Mr O’Leary: ‘alliances, and connections are all about "how do we screw the poor customer for more money?" and ’We don't fall all over ourselves if they... say my granny fell ill. What part of no refund don't you understand? You are not getting a refund so f-ck off .’

What does this all mean for us? Some thoughts...

- FACT: For a start it is and will continue to get harder and harder to sell your product.

- FACT: Clients and customers will need more and more convincing of the value that you add.

- FACT: They will be less impressed by cheap distractions and cheap gimmicks

- FACT: You need to have your ear to the ground – listening and defending yourself in the chat rooms and discussion forums.

- FACT: You need to work WITH customers – one bitter customer with a vendetta can bring you down.

- FACT: You can use the word on the street to review and revise your product (see Cisco Systems who use user discussion forums to refine their software).

- F
ACT: With the price of media production at virtually zero and the increasing power of the intermediaries (Google, Bling, Diggit and YouTube’s algorithms determine what gets found and what does not), you cannot afford to be on the wrong side of the wave.

- FACT: Beware competitors who are ahead of the game, pumping their brand with false characters on the web (if it is good enough for Nike and Red Bull...)

- FACT: Excessive advertising no longer creates excessive revenues but the reverse.

- FACT: Excessively effusive advertising and promo copy no longer creates excessively effusive customers.

Time to wake up and smell the coffee.

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