Customers know when to open their wallet - when you service them like nobody else!

We  have always known the importance of customer service and how it can boost customer retention and better word-of-mouth. But, the fact that it can help increase spend is an interesting statistic.

In a recent study, it is interesting to see that Indians value customer service the most!

Amex-customer-service-more-important-july-2010

Excellent customer service can push customer spend - Indians will spend 11% more vs Americans at  9%!

According to the same report, a majority of Americans report that quality customer service is more important to them in today’s economic environment (61%) and will spend an average of 9% more when they believe a company provides excellent service. This average spending boost ties US consumers in third place with Italian consumers, only consumers in Japan (10%) and India (11%) have a higher average spending increase resulting from excellent service.

Amex-customer-service-spend-more-july-2010

Here are some interesting additional highlights:

  • Customers themselves spread the good news. Positive Service experience generates great conversations amongst customers and their friends.
  •  48% felt companies are helpful but don’t do anything extra to keep their business!
  •  21% believe that companies take their business for granted!
  • When deciding which companies they do business with, it includes personal experience (98%), a company’s reputation or brand (92%), and recommendations from friends and family (88%).

It's time to put the customer at the center of customer service and do what it takes to keep  them surprised, engaged and involved. Not just satisfied. 


Netflix Queues - The power of visualization of data & preferences

Tim O' Reilly tweeted about an interesting interactive feature on NY Times on using the popular movies rented data on Netflix by neighborhoods and zipcodes in the US! It's a lovely little application that tells movies marketers the kind of preferences consumers have had in 2009. 

Netflix

This made me reflect on the infinite opportunities that are available on how data can be used in a number of ways imaginatively. Imagine the interesting applications of data:

  1. Grocery stores - Households and neighbourhoods that are calorie conscious and like exotic foods. FMCG brands can then use this information to do interesting promotions across different zones based on consumption patterns.
  2. Fitness Shops  - Zones that have different membership rates and ability to differentiate fitness freak zones from the not-so-fitness freak zones. Nike could use this effectively to build a community of fitness awarness champions across zipcodes to make the zones fitness conscious and the based on the number of people joining the fitness campaigns the 'heat maps' can become more and more red everyday!
The next decade is all about the imaginative use of data that's available with companies & visualization of the same, across offline and online media to get consumers to start interesting conversations amongst themselves.Brands that are able to leverage this trend will build stronger engagement with their customers.


Michelin's famously anonymous intrigue misses a trick or two!

Michelin has come-up with lovely idea to connect with their customers - famouslyanonymous.com. This is a great case for open-source marketing! This is perhaps how marketing will be done in the future for many brands.

The Michelin guide was first published in France in 1900 as a free directory that offered listings of hotels to promote road travel which would in turn help sales of Michelin brand tires. By 1926, they started charging for the guide and also started rating the restaurants. Michelin has its secret reviewers going into restaurants and giving them a 3 star rating to them based on their experience. Now, they seem to be making the identity of these reviewers public and therefore giving it a lot of credibility.

Here's my experience of the customer engagement and the gaps that I saw

I had visited the website as it generated a lot of interest in me due to  high decibel PR. While the campaign seems to be at a teaser  stage just now, the website had some interesting content around the history of the guide etc. I wanted to see the interview with the inspectors section and it asked me to comeback on Oct 5th. This is where they I felt they got it all wrong and dropped the ball!

Take a look at some great opportunities to build  the depth of this engagement further with consumers:

  1. Interview Alert:  They could have asked me to register for the interview alert with inspectors as and when it happens on the site. A simple and easy trail that I could have left behind - build a prospect database for the guide. I would have gladly agreed to do so. Oct 5th is quite a long way off and I might just forget to revisit the website amongst my other commitments. Hence, the engagement needs to be at the behest of the brand and not leave it to chance of my coming back.
  2. E-book Track: Having come-up with a great story on the heritage of the guide, there was an interesting opportunity that seemed to be available - to capture my identity to build a dialog further. Brands need to understand conversations like this happen over multiple touches with  consumers. The heritage story has interesting levers to "extend the conversation"!
  3. Leveraging the power of multi-channel for trial:  There is a huge opportunity for this campaign to use a multi-stage, multi-channel campaign approach which seems to have been missed. There is a great case for using mobile marketing by registering the vistors' mobile numbers and texting them on "interesting happenings on this website or restaurants" when they are not on the net. Also, if  consumers don't pre-book, there can be a trigger for the 'trial' of the guide. Consumers could use mobile texting(SMS) or email alerts to know more about a particular restaurant of their interest and their rating. This could act as a "sampling" for the new guide and encourage more purchase interest in the guide. This will open-up new opportunities for dialog and a continous one too.
In the world of open-source marketing and web conversations, there is a need to look at building the dialog thro' bits and bytes all the time. One must be able to link every "customer interaction chain" into a next step that can fulfil a behavioural objective - reinforce, reopen the dialog, inform, reiterate etc. and this is critical if the campaign objectives have to be met.