Going direct with customer conversations means that organizations can connect with the source of their bread and butter. This is a tremendous opportunity to gain contextual insights, understand when your brand is relevant, what to listen for, and what people respond to.
The upside is selling more to your current customers.
It's marketing at its best. Where the product may have little that sets it apart from that of other providers, responsive communication and dialogue earn you attention, and share of wallet. People will make the effort to switch with that upside.
Intellectually, we all know the best recommendation comes from a satisfied customer.
Online recommendations also come from a non (or not yet) customer who is impressed by seeing your behavior and actions toward customers. Yet, many businesses are still waiting around until something goes wrong. Even then, they hold out getting involved or show they don't care about your situation, until after the damage has occurred.
What's worse, customer relations and support groups are working against your marketing programs by demonstrating the slogan really means "me first."
Fake caring until you can do, if you must. I recognize that many internal structures need to be fixed, processes simplified, and the right people hired and put in place -- indeed, you get what you pay for and what you encourage, too.
As I'm preparing for our conversation about influence, I continue to come across examples of the negative kind.
Take for example the disconnect between what people are saying about Virgin Mobile on the company's site, and elsewhere about its service. As he says in his bio, Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence (SMI), a consulting and research firm focused on the Internet's influence on offline consumer purchase behavior. On the phone with Virgin Mobile, he is only a customer.
It is easier than ever to identify where the process and people problems are today. Organizations must want to take care of them to solve issues. As you can see from the video I included with this post, there are people who are worth having in your organization [YouTube link 10:03']
If you watch the video, you'll see a reverse engineered version of what customers see and experience when they call brands that continue to act "me first." Are you noticing and rewarding those people who are doing right by customers? Do you see how that is also marketing?