I've been involved in a number of customer service conversations lately, as I believe that in our social media world, companies are going to have to deal a lot more with customers who complain publicly when things don't go well.
The other day I was on the phone with my insurance company because they had rejected, for a second time, a procedure for my son which was performed by a physician who they claimed was “out of network” — let’s call him Dr. Brown. But, as I logged into the firm’s web-site (again), I was able to easily find Dr. Brown who was “in network”. As I had done a few weeks before, I mentioned this to the customer service representative, and she was not able to look at the web site from her computer, so I had to read her the name, address, and phone number so that she could contact him and make sure that he was “in network”.
Millions of stories have been written about bad customers service. It would be too easy to write another one, too easy to analyze the details, to pinpoint how they make all the mistakes that are logically possible to make and -with a twisted, reverse-creativity that defies “logic”- even more.
I've just gone through a very lengthy and painful technology transfer, and I think my takeaway is this: instead of making life easier for customers, maybe a viable brand loyalty strategy is to make it harder for them?
I know it sounds counterintuitive but what if marketers chose to deliver brand "engagement" as habit, routine, and as something so extensively embedded in customers' lives that it wouldn't be worth it -- or even consciously imaginable -- to ever change?
Esurance.com’s current advertising campaign emphasizes the fact that their customers can interact with technology when they don’t want to talk with people and they can talk with people when they don’t want to interact with technology. In a world which is becoming increasingly populated by people who have grown up with the internet always being a part of their lives their expectations are shaped by being able to get their products or services in any mode they desire.
Earlier this week, in a hot New York City, I was having some tea and lemonade with a dear friend who is a senior publishing executive. When our conversation turned to exploring the future of publishing she said, “our folks say our core value is to curate content”. I suggested that the real challenge for any publisher today is not just to curate content, but to manage audiences for the authors. She said, “in other words we need to curate audiences”.
Tomorrow afternoon, I was supposed to leave on a Delta/KLM flight to Scotland, so I can speak at the World Whiskies Conference in Glasgow. I've been totally psyched to attend this conference since Ian Buxton asked me about it in January. Now, thanks to a volcano that seems hasn't erupted since 1821, my travel plans are in hell. As of now, it looks like I won't be attending this year.