I have observed an interesting phenomenon: Social Media became THE hot topic a couple of years ago. Airlines and hotels discovered the need to communicate and influence through Facebook, Twitter and the likes.
But suddenly, not very long ago, they got interested in Customer Experience Management. What had happened? For years, they had basically ignored anyone not having IT, SM, Loyalty or Cost Cutting on his or her name card!
The following story may illustrate the deeper cause for this tendency:
Recently, I got a call from a friend, a C-level manager of a medium sized legacy international airline.
“Rainer”, he said, “our surveys always show high customer satisfaction levels,” adding that they had even introduced some “modern” control metrics, such as the Net Promoter Score, also with positive results.
But the night before his call, he had gone through an eye-opening experience. After performing, for the first time, a Twitter search of his company, he was shocked: minute after minute, unsatisfied customers aired their anger, some had even organised hashtags to structure their complaints. Only occasionally someone pointed at a competitor as “even worse”.
The airline’s “social media guy” was found to be tweeting bravely against the waves of customer discomfort. But, he was not empowered to offer real solutions.
His experience is pretty representative for what is happening in the industry.
Thanks to Twitter, Facebook & Co., many managers have started to acknowledge that the gap between their and their customers’ perception is real and that action is needed. The zone of confort constructed with carefully crafted surveys has vanished.
Now, what can you do?
Kill sacred cows within your own commercial, marketing and service strategies! Listen to what customers not only want, but also really value. Use this material to re-design your service, both its value proposal and the delivery process.
Do it around two pillars: get rid of what customers hate, inject real value into what customers love. If you can assemble a great customer experience, customers will be willing to pay for it, as a whole, or by its parts.
I know. This requires Leadership and guts. There will always be expensive consultants and sophisticated reports arguing against putting the customer in the co-pilot’s seat.
Are you prepared to convert complainers into adepts?
You should. It’s the only way to make customers spend more and lower your marketing costs by bringing in friends. If a bee counter asks, explain that it’s about customer equity. Without that, there will be no return on shareholder equity. That should work.
Rainer Uphoff, 21 September 2010