Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Tesco badge improved my buying brand experience

I shop in Tesco’s occasionally.

I am not a fan but it is convenient, and their range and prices are okay.

I recently noticed that their staff are wearing badges showing their names, roles and the year they ‘joined the team.’

I liked it.

It made me smile.

It’s a subtle thing but I think it makes my relationship with the staff a little bit more human. I think that makes me a little more likely to become a fan..the last step on path to advocacy.

Branded retailers should spend more time looking at how to make the buying brand experience a little more human, rather than install more of those dam self-service machines.

This sort of idea it isn’t complicated but can make a difference.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

A fabulous brand experience from Microsoft

We all know what usually happens when we call a customer service number:

- Multi-layer automated messages

- Long wait times

- Dull musak

I found a great story about what Microsoft used to do 10 years ago to deliver consumers a fabulous customer service call handling brand experience.

What Microsoft did was have a live DJ playing up-beat music and giving callers an update after each song: “...those waiting for [insert relevant department] there are now 8 of you waiting with the longest person in queue waiting for 5 minutes.”

Okay, operationally this must have been expensive but this is story about a brand experience delivered ten years ago. The return on investment, given this type of long-term advocacy, must make it worth considering more carefully how brand organisations can work-out better call handling systems.

If anyone has a more recent example of a great brand experience I’d love to hear about it.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Brand organisations ignore angry consumers at their peril

In years gone by brand organisations could ignore unhappy consumers.

When they delivered a bad brand experience, e.g. poor product performance, rude customer service, etc, it didn’t matter too much because consumers could do little about it, other than tell a few of their friends and stop buying.

If they got lucky their story might have got media exposure through newspapers or a TV consumer programme.

Fast toward to today and the things are completely different.

The digital age has put the consumer firmly in control.

The web is littered with examples of brands that have suffered because they have delivered bad brand experiences that have so incensed consumers they have found ways to use social media to get the attention of a wider audience.

Here are some infamous ones:

Dell ignored Jeff Jarvis’s complaints until he posted a ‘Dell Sucks’ blog. A large anti-fan club was born. [I’ve written about this before.]

United Airlines ignored complaints from an upset passenger who had watched his guitar being badly handled by baggage handlers. He posted a video and on YouTube got over 5 millions of hits. [see YouTube video]

Apple took no notice of early consumer complaints about broken glass covers on their newly launched Nano, until his consumer blog post generated massive backlash that they could not ignore.

A Comcast engineer was recorded fast asleep on a couch while on hold waiting for engineer support which has also had huge volumes of views and comments. [see YouTube video]

Last week there was a news story about how a disappointed holiday maker was ignored by Thompson Holidays until his ‘rant blog’ beat them on Google searches.

These ‘head in the sand’ stories always follow the same pattern:

Step 1: The brand delivers a bad brand experience (e.g. poor product delivery).

Step 2: The organisation compounds the problem by delivering further bad brand experiences (e.g.poor customer service, ignoring the problem, etc)

Step 3: The bad brand experience story spreads quickly across the world (via social media) turning millions of consumers off the brand.

Twitter has turbo-charged the speed and scale at which this type of story spreads. (See previous posting.)

Any brand organisation that permits these types of problem is likely to incur significant unwelcome extra costs to the business trying to put things right.

It is therefore vital to have people and processes in place that knows how to prevent this type of problem.

Better still, have people and process in place that know how to WOW consumers so they talk positively about your brand.

Brands with more advocates than competitors will win.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Homebase home delivery service get top marks

This is a great story about a positive brand experience.

My wife recently ordered a sofa on-line from Homebase.

During the buying process she booked a delivery date and time, at a cost of £10.

The day before Homebase telephoned and an automated voice said that the delivery window had been narrowed from four hours to two.

On the morning of the delivery the driver telephoned and said he would arrive in half an hour.

As promised, the sofa arrived and was unloaded and positioned by two very friendly and helpful delivery men.

We have thirty days to decide whether we like the sofa. If we don’t then it will be collected free of charge.

Homebase have realised that if they delight consumers they are likely to buy again and may be even tell their friends about their positive experience.

Homebase's approach is impressive.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Social media accelerates need for greater collaboration

I found this useful presentation that was posted on Slide Share one month ago (which I guess in social media years makes it is a little out of date).

It has loads of good stuff.

One quote by Josh Bernoff particularly resonated with me (check page 49):

“The people in charge of talking are in the marketing department.

The people in charge of listening are in the research, or service of sales department.

They hardly ever talk to each other….”

I’ve talked about this before. It is vital that teams collaborate.

It is time to break down department silos, particularly between marketing and research, service and sales; and work together to deliver consistent and joined-up brand experiences that delight the consumer and make them advocates.

Now more than ever before this is vital because ‘social media is like advocacy on steroids’ (check out the great visual on page 12).

It will be the brand organisations that understand the importance of collaboration and delighting consumers, and the power of social media and advocacy that will win.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Great customer service is critical to successful brand experience planning

Here is a useful no nonsense list of things customer service teams should be doing to keep consumers happy [See full details at Customer Service Tips and Perspectives]
  1. Answer the phone
  2. Listen to your customers
  3. Focus on the positive
  4. Handle customer complaints effectively
  5. Keep your promises
  6. Train your staff
  7. Be helpful and kind, even when there is not an immediate profit in it
  8. Let customers know you appreciate them
  9. Go the extra mile
  10. Ask if there is anything else you can do

The first 6 points are the basics if you want to get consumers to buy again.

But for me points 7 -10 are key if you want to delight consumers so that they not only buy again abut maybe even talk about your brand. (The power of that kind of advocacy is well recognised.)

I talk about this alot. Brand teams should be working with the whole organsiation delivering brand experiences that:
  • Make relevant brand promises to the consumer (generally via marketing).
  • Deliver theses promises both in-store and then every time the brand is used/consumed.
  • Delight the consumers. This magical bit that great customer service adds.
Try it. Seat down with the right people in your organistion and think about how the brand experiences you are delivering and how they can be improved. It might be helpful to use this approach to help.

It should be your first step to a very successful future.

What is Brand Experience?

I came across this excellent definition of Brand Experience in Digital Web magazine.

"Brand Experience is the strategic approach to compelling people to take productive action through the integrated, coordinated planning and execution of every possible interaction that they have with your company or products. That means assessing business strategy through the lens of providing people with carefully designed experiences that meet their needs and desires, with the explicit intention of compelling them to take productive action on your behalf.

Brand Experience—in its totality—is a rather new discipline, and one that is incredibly complex to execute successfully. Not only does it require a sophisticated understanding of business strategy and a deep, scientific and cultural understanding of people and markets, it also demands a broad—and neutral—understanding of communications and media. It is, at once, the synthesis of business, marketing, design and technology."

So, in summary:

  • It's new
  • It's complex to execute
  • It requires smart people to work it out.

I am not sure that I can add anything to this except a strong recommendation to spend time and effort mastering it. The business rewards for brands that get it right can be very high.

Here's a presentation that suggests how you can start......