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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Southwest sets the bar we'd suggest going higher
Southwest Airlines is known for high customer approval ratings and for its innovative approach to interacting with customers.  In keeping with that philosophy Southwest takes a pro-active approach when one of their flights encounters a problem such as a major delay or cancellation.  It's reported that they review all the flights from the previous day and contact the passengers who were on that flight by “sending out a bunch of emails and making a few phone calls” probably apologizing and thanking the customers for their patience.

We don't work for Soutwest and I can’t be sure who gets called and who gets an email message, but it is a smart approach and likely one that’s uncommon in their industry. 

But for those of us at CEP who apply the strategy of Identifying & Arming the best potential advocates, we would actually refine that process even further.  First, we would have identified the best potential customer advocates each day before they flew (as well as those in the top tier of their frequent flyer program travelling that day) and been certain they each got a special welcome aboard from the pilot or senior flight attendant.  Second, we would have a team tracking flights that are delayed more than a few hours and those that are cancelled in real time.  We would then compare the passenger lists for those flights with our best potential advocates and top tier frequent flyers (likely fewer than 10% of the passengers on any given flight), and we would contact them by text message or phone call while they are still sitting on the ground (or as they flip on the phones when they land).We would immediately apologize and where appropriate try to assist them, before those everyday advocates have much time to start their tweeting, blogging and Facebook posting about their negative experience.
8:35 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why All That Negative Word of Mouth?
I’ve never been inside a Wegmans supermarket in my life.  But if there were one opening in my town then I would have to at the least give it a try.  Why?  A couple of reasons:  1) I heard Alec Baldwin on David Letterman’s show telling a story of how impossible it would be  to get his mother to move from her upstate New York home because it would mean leaving Wegmans (and he wasn’t acting as a paid spokesperson).  2) A friend who pays as much attention to managing the customer experience as I do told me that it’s THE best. 3) I’m among the 23,000 YouTube visitors who have taken the time to watch the Algonquin Regional High School production Wegmans… The Musical!  -- see it at <>

In other words I am admitting what research study after study has already documented for us: word of mouth is a powerful force in producing brand awareness, consideration, and purchase intention. 

It’s not that getting such positive word of mouth just happens on its own.  But we believe that the difference between those who say and write negative things about your brand, and those who communicate positive messages goes beyond the quality of the experience alone, but probably is also more basic than many marketers think.  We believe that those who communicate negative messages typically have the Motivation, the Content, and they find the Opportunities.  And those who simply have a satisfying experience may lack all three of those ingredients. 

But once a marketer accepts that reality, it is possible to turn things around.

11:38 am edt          Comments

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