I’ve written about good customer service in the past, highlighting my excellent experience with L.L. Bean. I’ve postulated that quality customer service is actually free, because the incremental sales more than make up for “excessive” talk time and refunds/credits granted by your customer service representatives.
Here’s a trivially-observed example of what lousy customer service will cost you. In this example, from Verizon, it’s a minimum of $100.
But a recent study, carried out by Marketing Management Analytics, Financial Executive and Ed See, makes me think that more senior marketing executives should double-check the shine on their resume and perhaps consider a few more networking lunches in the near future.
A very brief summary of that report found in Ad Age frightens me and brings to mind a few courses of action that you can take today, if you find yourself in a similar situation.
A recent article in the New York Times got me thinking about the psychology of marketing again, and how some basic principles are used or under-used in social media marketing.
“Warning: Habits May Be Good for You” explores how an anthropologist turned to marketing experts from CPG companies like Procter & Gamble to help increase the incidence of hand-washing with soap after using the toilet in the nation of Ghana to improve the health of children. Obviously, this was an important effort and I was encouraged to see marketing practitioners as instrumental in helping achieve success in this endeavor.
As I was reading the article, it struck me that many of the techniques used are found in Robert B. Cialdini‘s classic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I’d lent out my copy a few years ago and, thankfully, had to buy a new version which includes an epilogue written by Dr. Cialdini in 2007. My re-read then triggered a few thoughts on social media.
If the social media crowd can stop navel-gazing long enough to do some quick research and scientific work, boy will money be made. [More after the jump.]
You plan for offensive operations, while you prepare to play defense. You’ll find this concept in both warfare and sports, and it’s applicable in business as well.
I much prefer playing offense, because that’s where you score and generate revenues. A strong business offensive plan also limits the amount of places you’ll need to prepare to play defense, freeing up more resources for–you guessed it–playing more offense.
What’s an example of planning as opposed to preparations in a marketing context?
A great example can be found in the United States Postal Service and the annual postage increases. If you’re using direct mail as a marketing channel, you can be sure of two things:
Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.
Unlike a lot of companies, L.L. Bean really lives by their guarantee.
After lashing out at Verizon and Vonage a little while ago, I thought I’d move on to other topics.
But Verizon can’t help but make simple mistakes in their direct mail efforts. On Friday, I received yet another first-class mailing, this time promoting Verizon’s FiOS Internet service.
Since I’ve now been a triple-play customer for two months and paid two bills for the service, this mailing is slightly redundant. Unlike the last promotion, this one has doesn’t even include a letter signed by an identifiable person. I guess they knew this was so poorly done that nobody wanted to sign it?
Of interest is the fact that the return address for the FiOS Internet service is Annapolis MD, while the TV promotion came out of Irving, TX. This confirms my suspicion that the FiOS product is multiple business units hammered together.
Summary and takeaways
Share your internal customer lists across multiple business units and suppress against those customer files when you are undertaking a promotion.
Always suppress against your transactional/payment database. Your internal marketing databases might not be updated, due to either sloth or neglect, but the department that counts the money always knows who’s paying and who’s not.
I’ve recently received several direct response efforts that are unfortunately poor examples of our science and craft. But they provide some important lessons that we should all take into account when preparing our next campaigns, whether they be acquisition, retention or winback efforts.
The two efforts I’m going to write about appear to suffer from at least one flaw that I try to address with clients and employees. I call it “fingertips.”
By that, I mean that the nuts and bolts and detail of the marketing effort or analysis need to flow from the written page or the computer monitor through your eyes, be processed by your brain and then exit via your fingertips to the email, instant message, Excel spreadsheet, etc. It’s not about forwarding the print production schedule you get from your printer or assigning the analysis of the media plan to your least-experienced employee because it’s tedious. Having “fingertips” means you know the detail because you’ve not only seen it, but processed it and then had it exit via your keyboard.
I didn’t see the “fingertips” of the marketing managers in these efforts. Al Pacino, in his famous rant at Kevin Spacey in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross would have put it more bluntly.
Today’s example of online marketing waste, which probably went awry someplace in the 4% of process (see Focus on the Four in our featured article section), comes from Samsung in the form of a promotion for their new Blackjack II cellular phone, which is available to subscribers of AT&T’s wireless network.
A couple of reasons why it’s a good thing I received this promotion:
Humans and chimpanzees have a match on about 96% of their DNA. That’s not a lot of difference between you or I in our automobiles, sipping a Starbucks latte while chatting our cell phones and our pan troglodytes relatives in the rain forests of central Africa.
And that 4% is about the difference between dramatic marketing success and dramatic marketing failure.
How can you avoid being a marketing chimpanzee? Just Focus on the Four.