Posted tagged ‘relations’

The Marketing Rules are (Still) Changing

March 6, 2009

tre-coverAs the world has witnessed the collapse of billion dollar companies such as AIG and Merryl Lynch, some of us stood by and were only able to watch in horror as if we were watching the Titanic sinking after hitting the iceberg. “It can never sink. It’s just too big,” they said. One can almost hear the naysayers scoffing at anyone who predicted such a catastrophic failure as what happened on Wall Street. “No, the banks can never fail. The government won’t let that happen.”

Look where it [our confidence] got us. Over the past two or three years, we have taken special notice to some blogs, names and phrases, such as, “Relationship Capital.”

The Relationship Economy is a system in which we are worth who we know and what we know. For example, I personally have just over 2,400 so-called “friends” on the online social network known as Facebook. A year ago, I had exactly 67 “friends” on that same network. Realizing that the shift from a goods-based/knowledge-based economy to a relationship-based economy, I started adding “friends” like crazy. Today, with my 2,400 + “friends,” I am more valuable than I was on March 5, 2008.

I’ve made connections to people all over the world, most of whom I will never meet or even speak to on the phone. And while I would say many will prove to be fruitless, I have made some really good connections to people in some very high places with companies such as Dell, IBM, Apple, HP, and, my favorite, Comcast.

The marketing has changed in the past six months. People are coming to the realization that the social networks are becoming more vital to businesses rather than just a fad. People are watching television online, listening to the radio online, getting their news online, and companies are capitalizing on the world’s ability to connect online.

So what’s my point?

With people spending so much time online and our ability to remain connected to the world, via Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and RSS feeds, the marketing has changed locations and forums, but the message is still the same: “LOOK AT HOW GREAT MY PRODUCT IS!”

That’s where the marketing guys come up short. Rather than talking to us, they need to be talking with us. Finding out what it is we need. What we want a product to give us, etc.

In The Cluetrain Manifesto, written by Doc Searls et. al., says that marketes are conversations. It does little to aid your bottom-line if you are speaking in a language none of your customers can understand. Therefore, the relationship isn’t there.

Now, some companies have adapted their marketing to The Relationship Economy, but the big-boys–the banks, the insurance companies, etc.– have not. That’s why they collapsed in ’08.

Companies have forgotten that they aren’t all about million dollar homes and large offices with gold trash cans. When a person is made to feel important, that is when you will develop consumer pride and brand loyalty. But when a service call is not kept, the call is dropped, or the company doesn’t seem to care about YOU, the consumer, that is when the walls they have built all around them start to crumble.

The move toward the relationship economy is coming, and I think it may catch many big companies unaware.

How ’bout it?

Are You Talkin’ to ME?

February 11, 2008

customer-service.jpgThe folks at Comcast need to hire social networking guru Jay Deragon to give a training class on the best ways to enhance customers’ experiences with their business. In his recent post, Jay relates the woes of trying to call Bank of America only to become increasingly frustrated with the whole experience.

We’ve all heard the canned message, “Your business is important to us and we value our relationships. Please stay on the line until our customer service representative can assist you.”

Because of a recent decision to move the computer from the living room to the bedroom, we had to get an internet connection placed upstairs. Since we are Comcast customers, we called to schedule a technician to come out and provide us with a new connection. After sitting around waiting for the tech to show up in that three hour window they gave us, he finally showed.

The service was great, and we got the computer moved, but the reason for this post is what happened next: Less than 24 hours after the service call, we received a follow-up call to make sure that everything was to our satisfaction. After explaining that the connection was slower than it had been, and that the last time we reported that it was this slow it was because there was a splitter inside the cable box, the customer account executive who was fielding my call said, “Well, you probably have some spyware or other adware on your computer, so I don’t think it’s our problem.

We regularly delete the cookies and additionally have two anti-spyware/adware programs running on our computer all the time. As we were explaining this to the “executive,” she said, “The sweet tea is mine. They didn’t have any. They gave us a discount and they gave us the stuffed mushrooms for free.” SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT HER LUNCH ORDER WHILE ON THE PHONE WITH A CUSTOMER!!!

Then she came back to us, “I’m sorry, sir.” Nothing. I knew exactly what had happened and wanted to let her know I didn’t appreciate it. So I waited and said nothing. “Sir?”

Doing my best Robert De Niro impression, I asked, “You talkin’ to me?” She responded by apologising profusely and saying that she couldn’t believe she did that. “That was very unprofessional of me,” she said, “and I do apologise.”

I told her I accepted her apology, which I did, but reading How Does Free Impact Your Business?, I began to consider the number of customers/clients to whom she’s done the same thing.

How are we supposed to feel that we are important to service providers on whom we depend daily, if their representatives do not respect us or our time?

How ’bout it?