Unless you’ve been on another planet the past few weeks, you already know the story of how Rush Limbaugh uttered some highly provocative remarks about a private citizen and paid for it by hemorrhaging advertisers.
Marketers, educators, parents… Everyone in the Generation X or Boomer demographic seems to be scratching their heads, trying to figure out Generation Y, aka the Millennials. After all, they are the first generation to seemingly possess digital prowess as part of their DNA. And they are the first generation to receive both a birth certificate and a social networking profile upon delivery into this world.
Just more than a year ago, AccessoryGeeks.com began sending marketing e-mails to consumers who had left items in the site’s online shopping cart. The e-mails contained coupons meant to push shoppers to buy cell phone, iPod and iPad accessories.
Then came the addition of more coupons and deals to the site’s home page, many located via clicking on the ‘Coupon’ and ‘Sales & Deals’ tabs. The retailer, analyzing its monthly sales and checkout stats, came to realize that its customers—some nursing recession-era habits—were more likely to complete a purchase when an offer was spiced up.
Ultimately, whether emerging technology lets people customize their own products or learn more about the designers and stories behind them, said Shellhammer, "The consumer feels empowered to make the choice."
By definition, to engage a customer involves capturing the customers attention first, which entails providing something of value to the customer that is worthy of their attention. It is human nature to be self-interested. My self-interest, as a company, is easy to understand - providing, you the customer, something of value - a product, service, information, experiences. etc. that will eventually facilitate an exchange of value - often monetary. My self-interest, as a customer, is to acquire the best solution (in my opinion, which can be influenced by you or friends or people like me that I trust), at the moment of decision-making, for the job to be done. The path I take, as a customer, is often circuitous, unconscious, irrational and emotional, but it is my path. Your job, as a company, is to understand my values, my wants, desires, likes, dislikes, to gain my attention and understand the value of your solution to my needs (and the impact of you have on me and my perception of you at every step along the journey).
When McDonald’s tried to launch the #McDStories Twitter campaign, they clearly envisioned a bunch of fond memories from Big Mac lovers, interspersed with behind-the-scenes glimpses into the McDonald’s “food”-making process. (They kicked it off with a link to “some of the hard-working people dedicated to providing McDs with quality food every day.”) Unfortunately, they really, really misunderstood social media. Result: #McDStories was quickly overrun with the grossest, weirdest McDonald’s non-appreciation its non-fans could come up with
Something significant has changed in our global culture over the past couple of years. Blame it on global economic pressures, general restlessness, or the new hyper-connectivity that enables people to instantly organize around causes and hot-topics. It's probably some combination of all of these factors, but the net result is that we, as business leaders, are now dealing with a populace that is more socially engaged, more aware of what's going on in the world, and hungrier to get involved and be heard on various issues.
We know about the mini-uprisings in recent months against brands like Bank of America and the Susan Komen Foundation. And we might say, "Well, they made bad decisions." But in part, their mistake was not to realize that the world had changed around them. In this new world, their "customers" could easily become activists — either for or against them.
So how does a smart business respond in a time of heightened passions and greater activism?.
Nike CEO Mark Parker who not only has has the coolest CEO office in the corporate world, hasn’t even bought a pair of gym shoes since 6th grade. In recent Mark explains:“Connecting used to be, ‘Here’s some product, and here’s some advertising. We hope you like it,’ ” he says. “Connecting today is a dialogue.
"Consumers have relationships with brands, and the value of the relationships is that they provide context that either amplifies or diminishes everything, Singer says. “Think about it this way: If you have a really strong relationship with a technology brand, you are going to pay attention when they introduce new products. Everything they do, you see through a particular lens. Relationships literally change business.”
With the explosion of social media and smart devices, customers are becoming incredibly sophisticated, elusive, and empowered. As a result, the dynamics that govern the relationship between brands and customers is evolving. But even in this era of engagement and “two-way” conversations, the reality is that the relationship businesses hope to have with customers through these new devices, applications, or networks and their true state are not one in the same. In fact, it is woefully one-sided, and usually not to the advantage of customers, which for all intents and purposes still affects businesses.
One reason so many of us may have failed to notice the rise of the employee, while celebrating the connected consumer, is that she might be one and the same person. This miss has come at a cost to organizations today, but it’s certainly understandable. For the evolution of the empowered employee has not happened all at once. The connected consumer may have come first for good business reasons.
we live in an Internet-exposed world that gives us all we want, raw and in real time, and we have an “I’ve seen it all before” attitude about everything. Yet companies are more cautious in this politically correct, overly litigious, and socially enabled environment. According to Trendwatching.com, consumers are “able to handle much more honest conversations, more daring innovations, more quirky flavors, more risqué experiences--these consumers increasingly appreciate brands that push the boundaries.” So companies had better figure out how to let their brands thrive in today’s world.
When possible, banks should answer questions directly on Twitter, the Javelin report advises. But bank representatives must educate customers that they will need to switch to a private, direct message, or perhaps to another mode of communication, like phoning a call center, if account information or other details are needed to address the issue — or, if the problem requires more than Twitter’s 140-character limit.
Banks, however, should make “reasonable efforts” to avoid forcing the customer to explain the problem over again. “Twitter,” the report says, “should be seen as a time saver, not an extra step in a conventional service channel.”
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