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Friday, July 24, 2009

Break Out the Champagne Seattle
We’ve just been told the exciting news that Starbucks has surpassed Coca-Cola in the world of social networks.  Specifically it has been reported that Starbucks now has 3.7 million fans on their Facebook page compared to only 3.5 million fans for Coke.  The success has been attributed to Starbucks recent free pastry promotion.

How has the term “social networks”, a concept that has been the province of sociologist and social psychologists for a hundred years, suddenly been redefined by marketers?  And how in the world have we marketers so quickly reduced the concept to a measure of how many promotional coupons a brand distributes?
 

I expect marketers to continue using coupons as a way to introduce new products as both Coke and Starbucks have done.  I also know that marketers need to continue to seek less expensive ways to distribute those coupons, and that consumers have shown that with the right creative treatment they will help corporations give away lots of free stuff through Facebook.  But is that all “social networking” is to be about?  I think that we are foolishly blurring the lines when we start to compare a neighbor recommending a brand of laptop computer over a cup of coffee, or even a stranger voicing their opinion of a hotel on a blog (my old definition of social networking), with that of a consumer making a visit to a Facebook page to pull their copy of a coupon.
 

Where is this all going?  How can we get everyone to recognize that just as coupon distribution has a role in marketing, so also does proving a valuable customer experience and getting customers to speak and write about the experience and the brand to potential new customers?  It all falls under the umbrella of using social media, but we have to be careful that we don’t let anyone start to think that one set of strategies and tactics can replace the other and still meet the objectives.
11:27 am edt          Comments

Friday, July 10, 2009

GM's New Customer Focus?
We hear today that the new GM is to be about improving the “customer experience”.   The news release says that they will be “a company focused on listening to customers, delivering products that are high quality and environmentally friendly, and quickly executing goals”.  For the sake of the country, I really hope that they succeed. 

I’m curious though whether the bankruptcy proceeding have allowed GM to alter their relationship with the dealers.  Unless they have, headquarters can do all the talking they want, and it means little.  The dealers are after all the ones that actually have the interactions with the customers.  While Nissan and Toyota (and Saturn for that matter) created a different culture and had a different dealer kind of dealer contract, the traditional dealers owned the customer.  While headquarters could suggest how customers were to be treated in the sales and the service experience, their suggestions had no teeth.
 The Total Customer Experience includes every interaction with the brand and every bit of “data” that the customer captures, through all their senses.  It’s the product performance, the look of the brand advertising, the exterior appearance of the dealership, the smell of the service waiting area, the attitude of the service writer, the convenience of parking at the dealership, the clarity of the service bill, and so much more.  

GM will need to make tough decisions on where among all the touchpoints and experiential components  of those touchpoints they are going to spend their money to improve.  They can’t change everything, and they can’t change much of the experience unless they have found a way to get the dealers totally onboard.
 

11:03 am edt          Comments


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Customer Experience Partners, LLC
Measurement, Management, Optimization
Contact us at: 203-655-0090 or
pruden@customerexperiencepartners.com

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