Customer Experience Partners

Philosophy

Blog | Introduction | About Us | Services | Weekly Insights Emailer | Philosophy | Articles and Publications | Contact Us

 

There are many components to the marketing mix, but when you get down to the concern of actually making a profit, two of the most important are the retention of existing customers and the management of word of mouth.

Retention

Consumer may buy a product the first few times based upon the “Four P’s”

                             Product, price, promotion and place

But in the consumer services, retail, consumer durables and B-to-B environments consumers certainly consider these “basics” as well, but once they initially "trial purchase" the product or service: 

 

1. Their relationship with the brand 

2. Their service experience

3. The product/service benefits delivered

Carry a stronger influence on future purchase decisions.


At each interaction or “touchpoint “ of their experience (in consumer services, retail, durables, and business-to-business environments) customers gather information about how the company treats them, the benefits delivered by the products and services, ease of doing business, etc.


Consciously and sub-consciously customers take each of these experience and benefit datapoints and create a sum of their worth. In a similar fashion the customer recognizes the price they are paying for the product or service experience.  Cost is not only the dollars and cents charged but also includes factors such as the potential risk and time consumed in changing suppliers, perceived or actual expenses incurred, etc. 

Consciously or sub-consciously customers continually compare the sum of the benefits to the price they are paying. This calculation can be viewed simply as:

         Perceived Value = Customer Experience + Product Benefits / Cost


They compare this to what they believe would be delivered by other competitive brands. There can be many manageable components included in Perceived Value ranging from the highly rational to the highly emotional.  Understanding the various touchpoints and the importance and performance of each to customers is critical in telling the corporation which levers to pull (where to add resources) for the greatest financial return. 

Word of mouth

Some in the marketing press might suggest that with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp and thousands of other blog and websites that the dynamic of word of mouth has all changed.  They would have us believe that it’s now all about viral marketing and manipulating Social Media.  Certainly the marketplace has changed, but consumers still own the public dialogue.  Despite the fanfare, and the favorite corporate success stories, for most brands and in most categories, it still comes down to brand engagement and the total experience that a product or service is providing to their customers.  What has really changed is the number of avenues a consumer has to communicate their thoughts and their feelings to others, the number of people they can reach with a few key strokes, and the speed with which they reach out to those friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers, and even complete strangers.

Be it positive comments or negative remarks – be it online (email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, personal texts, and more), or offline (a phone call or plain old face-to-face conversation) -- consumers only write and speak about a company, product, or service when they have: 1) motivation, 2) content, and 3) opportunity. 

 

Motivation.  Pick any brand you want and the word “complaint” and enter it into your favorite search engine.  Then take that same brand and couple it with “compliment” and search again.  Which do you think produces more hits?  Typically bad product or service experience lead consumers to write or speak to others about a brand. Why?  Because they are so angry, or just want to get even, or hope to warn others and prevent them from suffering the same fate. In other words, because they are internally motivated to act. 

It’s not that a positive experience can’t also motivate us to communicate to others.  Showing that you’re the first to sample an exciting new product, sharing news that no one else knows, and having the opportunity to introduce friends to something that’s free or deeply discounted can drive word of mouth for a short period,  but over time  it’s difficult to surprise and wow a customer.  Simply meeting expectations or “satisfying” a customer just doesn’t ignite that kind of emotional charge that motivates a customer to begin communicating. 

 
 

Content.  As consumers most of us don’t claim to be experts about the products and services we buy.  Be it a computer, a lawnmower, roofing shingles, software, or life insurance we probably buy with limited knowledge.  Further, the corporation that produces the brand is a giant behemoth in some far away city that stands for who knows what.   Unless we’ve had an incredibly bad or any exceptionally good experience we simply have little to talk about. With no information to share and no good stories to tell there is seldom much word of mouth generated. 

A new mom talking about diapers, formula or where to buy clothes – you bet they have content.  A mother of the bride communicating about facilities for wedding receptions, an avid golfer speaking about clubs and balls that give extra distance, a recently released hospital patient telling others about their emergency room experience, they all have plenty of opinions to offer.  But for most brands and most services the storytelling doesn’t come quite so easily.

 

 

 

Opportunity.  The great hole in the Net Promoter concept is of course the question itself: “would you recommend?”  Lots of people might recommend, but most probably won’t simply because no one will ever ask them.  Speaking or writing positively about a brand requires courage and the right timing.  Only the most dedicated customer will volunteer their feeling about the brand unless they are asked.  And unless they happen to be carrying a bottle of their preferred vitamin tablets, or standing at their bank’s ATM, or showing off their Harley-Davidson tattoo, people will have little idea of which brands to ask them about.  I you are thinking that they don’t need to wait to be asked before they can begin speaking or writing about a brand, that’s absolutely true.  But unless the individual has the previously discussed Motivation and Content, they are unlikely seek out a website where they can express themselves, or even initiate a discussion with a relative or co-worker.

 

Word of mouth is neither simple to understand or easy to manage.  It does however offer tremendous potential for those businesses and other organizations that are willing to target improvement.

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

Powered by Register.com