Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rights to Write - Personal Voice

Express your self
Have you heard of this term called as "professional voice"? I have experienced this 5 years back  and many of us still continue to... What it means is that you have a corporate dictate on who should speak, what to speak, how to speak, which font to use, what colors to be associated and list of so called rules to ensure consistency. Corporates take pride in being more consistent in communication than customer delight. Employees, though disgruntled, are forced to use there professional voice.

With the penetration of Internet and particularly social media these corporate dictates are getting broken. Think about what you are doing in the social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. You are expressing yourself. There is no dictate,no pressure on consistency, content. Write what you want and write your heart out. This is called as "Personal Voice". You have the right to write your opinions about the products you use, the company you work for or about your co-workers either in your company sites ( if they are open to listening) or in any of your personal blog or social networks. As an individual, you are more empowered that before. Your customers are also looking for your personal opinions and not the lifeless voice of your corporate. There is no place for a ventriloquist act ( with you the mouthpiece for your corporate voice)

To corporates: Web is not a medium which will act as a corporate mouthpiece or brochure ware. Customers sing, dance, play, share opinions etc on the web. Either participate in this rendezvous with your personal voice or   hold on to your professional voice and perish.

Its your Right/Write!!!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Current Loyalty programs - Cul De Sac

My inspiration to this blog is a conversation which I had with my brother yesterday. He was making some profound statements about some fundamentals of marketing like:
  • Who is a buyer?
  • What is a market?
  •  Role of conversations in building relationships
  • How we have moved from a selling concept to an experience concept
  • Customer Delight ( one of the most abused words in marketing)
The one word that caught my attention was " creating stories". So what about it?

Typically marketing organization focus on customer delight to retain customers and acquire more customers. The retention and loyalty marketing programs attempt to categorize a customer based on some criteria and offer some tangible or intangible benefits. Expectation : Quid Pro quo... Extended loyalty with the company. 

Why would a customer want to extend his loyalty when your competitor can offer something more special the very next day?  How can a company create customer delight? 

What is the hook? " Do the unconventional even in an ordinary interaction"

Imagine, you go to store to buy a gift for a special person for a special occasion. To your disappointment, the specific gift that you were looking for was not available. A typical store representative would be polite and give a warm response " Sorry sir, Gift is out of stock".

But companies which have unconventional belief systems about customer delight will go out of the way to do extraordinary things to delight a customer. In such a company the response might be that representative would check with all their stores and stockist for the product. In the event of negative response, the store salesman might buy it from a competitor store and deliver it to the client. In such companies, there 3 unsaid rules:

  • Customer does not buy just a product but  the whole experience
  • Customer Delight is not just marketing metric but doing the unconventional even in ordinary situations to delight a customer
  • Even the store clerk is empowered to take spot decisions to delight a customer. It is never a regimented process with multiple approvals
With this kind of an experience , a customer is sure to carry positive story about the company. It is these stories when passed from one person to another generates brand pull than any amount of advertising.

Social media is a great platform to spread these unconventional stories. Organization, who intend to build respectable brand(s),should encourage its employees to do the unconventional and leave the pressure of correlating actions to results.  Thats the only way to provide uninhibited unconventional customer service.

The regular,monotonous loyalty programs are like Cul de Sac. Get back to basics and get unconventional

We like to hear as well as tell stories. Why do marketers fail to understand this simple thing?

If you have any such stories out your personal experience, please share it.

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