Within social media marketing, three of the most talked about issues at the moment are fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter and endorsements on LinkedIn. In the past these key words were mainly reserved for celebrities and influential people. They have fans, they have followers (although they are often referred to as groupies in this context) and they use their influence on others to endorse brands or products. In today’s world, what does it really mean to be fan of somebody on Facebook, follow someone on twitter and be endorsed by others on LinkedIn?
For stars and celebrities it generally means the more fans / followers they have, the more income and popularity they receive. The more popularity they get, the greater the possibility of gaining extra income by endorsing others or their products. The concept of celebrities as brands is widely known, but the actual status of their fans is often neglected, especially once the artist can actually be called a star. Fans and followers are customers, who often have a strong emotional bond towards their subject of admiration. This generally indicates a high level of loyalty as well. Yet, the emotionality of this customer relationship may be the cause of its ruin if it is not cherished and respected. Does the same apply to fans and followers on social media? And what about the relationships created in either circumstance?
I recently read an article about a maid who was supposedly fired after asking a celebrity staying at the hotel she worked at for an autograph. Now, even though this might not have been the most professional approach for her to go autograph hunting while at work, I wonder whether this celebrity thought about the impact her actions may have on the loyalty of her customers, her fans. The mentioned celebrity now denies having had this maid fired, but what impact do you think even the possibility of this event will have on fans and followers?
Similarly, in the run up to the American Presidential election a very controversial comment was made on a company’s twitter account for all its followers and the general public to see. This tweet associated the death of President Obama’s grandmother and his first Presidential victory. Even though the company afterwards apologised stating that this was the mistake of one employee posting a private message on a company page, what impact do you think this incident had on the base of followers of this company and its reputation in the whole?
Being a fan, follower or subscriber of an individual or a brand therefore allows individuals the power to always know what is happening in the world of brands and celebrities. One can then either endorse or be critical of their doings. The consequence of this is crucial for the brand or person being followed. Through new technologies, anything celebrities or brands do can initiate a ripple effect on social media. This can either have a positive or negative effect on their social influence and a similar incremental influence on their fan or customer loyalty. This influence may not only tarnish their own reputation and loyalty, but also of everyone who endorsed their brand or has been endorsed by this celebrity. So how do you ensure this never happens to you? And how would you react if it did?
Brand loyalty and awareness are some of the greatest drivers of purchase decision in the European automotive market and beyond. How do I know? Let me tell you that years of feedback surrounding questions like “How can you drive such a car?” or “Hey, I’d have never believed this company could produce products so well!” has made me realise this. Especially due to the large variety of products sold under one brand, the image of the brand seems to replace specific products and becomes the umbrella reflecting the reputation and strength of the brand itself.
Research and studies about brand impact and loyalty have been undertaken over several decades. Yet, little is known about the real impact of and reasons behind brand awareness. Taking the historical example of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, blind tests have shown that consumers favoured Pepsi without knowing which soft-drink they tested. After the brand of the product was revealed during the field-test, 65% of the subjects considered Coca-Cola being the superior soft-drink. Interestingly, brand awareness seems to beat human senses like natural taste. Consequently, it would be reasonable to assume that rational decisions are heavily impacted by power of brands.
So, what is it all about? Some research highlights emotional positioning of brands whereas others focus on the perceived trust-worthiness of brands and companies. In a nutshell, most studies agree with the fact that brand reputation and image are key elements of repurchase decisions. Thus, companies need to enforce their brand image through all communication channels to all stakeholders in order to achieve their desired positioning.
Consider the example of Apple. It becomes obvious why Apple works hard to train their sales team to reflect the Apple experience in after-sales and sales. Given current technologies and social networks, positive impact on word of mouth can be taken for granted by such approaches. A few weeks ago, my own iPhone fell into a bath tub. After three hours of sorrow and one post on Facebook, the direct response came out of my personal network: “Just visit the Apple Store, as long as the iPhone is still in one piece, they will offer you a brand new one for the amount of 199 Euros.” You know what, this really worked and made me wake up this morning and order a new iPad mini. Why I have ordered it given the fact that I already own an iPad – I really don’t know. But for sure, I love the brand.
What are your thoughts around brands and brand loyalty? Have you ever recognized a brand fulfilling their brand image in their operating business or the other way around? I am keen to learn your thoughts and experiences.
As someone who really values a strong relationship with the brands I do business with, I find it increasingly troubling how much focus companies still put on cold calling and ‘cold’ telemarketing (i.e. they know about you, but don’t use it).
Whilst there are some benefits to companies (otherwise, I assume they wouldn’t do it), the number of complaints about cold sales calls has rocketed, suggesting that customers are becoming less and less tolerant. A whopping increase of 147% year on year complaints to the Telephone Preference Service (Source: Marketing Week) about cold calls is not a good result. The fact that nearly 18 million people are registered with the service should be an indicator that they are not particularly welcome. So why do it?
The route to strong future sales growth is surely focussed on building trust, a connection and a real understanding of your customers. The sales guy calling me at 8pm to sell me more services – from a company I already do business with – does not sit well at all. If they were to match the service to my needs then I may be a little more tolerant. Given I haven’t changed my bank or mobile provider for at least ten years, you would like to think they knew more about me and how I use their services.
So if not just to gather updated information on customer preferences (which I can understand), what other benefits do companies realise from cold calling? Would an investment in customer research, insight and loyalty be more worthwhile?
More and more big businesses want to be seen to be moving forward and strengthening consumer bonds, yet many won’t let go of the past.
A term that is used repeatedly by companies, yet I am not sure we fully understand what it means, how we can nurture an innovative culture or whether it is a good or bad thing.
I read a blog recently by Pat Lencioni entitled “Is innovation good or bad” and started thinking about this interesting term and how frequently it is used or requested without there being a clear understanding of what it means and why we are doing it.
There are several written definitions of innovation but the one that I feel is the most relevant is: “Innovation is creating value by implementing ideas”
If adding value is the measure, then who is the measurer? Is this a personal measurement? I ask these two questions because I feel in today’s world it is so easy for people to say “we are an innovative company” or “you are not an innovative company.” The same applies to personal beliefs.
So what are my thoughts on how to deal with this?
Review your customer survey to ensure that the “innovation” section / questions are asked in the right way so that you can specifically understand what this means to the person responding. I believe that innovation is personal so this is crucial. Without this you will not know what to do more of, less of or where to spend your money.
Look at the employee innovation feedback and the client feedback to see if there is a correlation.
Define innovation in your organisation, sector and identify when innovative ideas occur and tell people about it, reward people for innovation.
Implement a robust ‘idea to innovation’ process that aligns to your vision so that ideas become real commercial services or products that add value.
So what does the future look like in relation to innovation? I hope more clarity, better measurement and personalisation. To avoid thinking that innovation is about large investments but to focus on the smaller things that truly add value to your customers and employees.
Percepta, the global customer experience and loyalty business, today announced the opening of its newest office, continuing rapid growth in the Asia Pacific region.
Following the successful launch in Shanghai, China, in 2011, Bangkok, Thailand, becomes an operational hub serving four new markets.
Percepta will serve client customers and retailers in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines from the new office, continuing a positive and very successful 12-year partnership. The new centre will implement the highly effective concern resolution and customer welcome services that have brought success to European operations, modelled around customer expectations and the market environment. It’s expected that the full transition will be completed by the end of June 2012.
Speaking of this latest launch, Alan Meldrum, vice president Europe & Asia Pacific, said, “This has been a challenging project bringing diverse cultures and language capability together in a multi-faceted operation. So it is with a great sense of satisfaction to announce the first of three geographical launches in 2012 has been successfully completed on our journey to provide a consolidated network of facilities across the APAC region.”
Percepta recently celebrated 12 years in business and a rapid growth from operations in three countries in 2000. This new announcement gives Percepta an in-market presence in 13 countries, serving customers in 19 countries globally, speaking over 17 languages.
The utilities sector is one in crisis. The customer is losing faith in the provider, and in turn the provider is losing the customer. With customer loyalty shrinking and the urge to switch increasing, adapting a communication strategy to fit the needs of the customer is more crucial than ever before.
A prime example of such a change in tactics is British Gas, who, it was reported this week, is set to close one of their five UK call centres by the end of the year. The company say that the doubling of self service transactions and the implementation of smart meters have led to a drastic change in customer communication habits, and as a result fewer customers have been calling them. One third of all their customers, British Gas claim, now choose to communicate with the brand online. But is this change in strategy the right move? Are the energy giants equipped to handle such a change in customer behaviour? After all, it was only early last year that British Gas were fined by industry regulators Ofgen for the mishandling of customer complaints, a punishment the company claimed to be “disproportionate” to the damage caused. So how is the company manage those communicating through email?
A multichannel survey carried out on over 100 UK service providers began to shed some light on their, and others in the industry’s performance.
The survey, which recorded levels of customer satisfaction on a range of communication channels, highlighted that UK energy providers in general perform poorly when handling customer queries through email. It reported that on average 80% of customer emails were responded to, yet only 40% were considered helpful or relevant to the complaint, leading to an increase in follow up emails and calls from the customer.
So what can we take from these results? When evidence points to a change in customer behaviour, companies must not only adapt to the change, but tailor their services in such a way that creates a seamless transition for the customer. The question remains; can British Gas and others in the industry demonstrate service that pleases customers, regardless of the channel they choose to communicate? Share your thoughts below!
The Percepta marketing team recently attended the Communications Breakfast in Glasgow with guest speaker Rob Woodward, Chief Executive at STV. The theme of the breakfast was ‘Digital STV — the Future’, focussing on the vision of the organisation and how television is going to affect us and the businesses we operate in, in years to come.
Rob opened his presentation by demonstrating that people who watch TV are more than just viewers — they are consumers. They dictate what they watch, where and when, and this has been heightened by the ability to stop, record and play live TV. He pointed out that this will only become more evident as the lines between television and internet become increasingly blurred.
Being one of the first channels to launch its own channel on YouTube, undoubtedly places STV at the forefront of digital media. Rob pointed to the fact that their success in this area can be attributed to the combination of excellent technology coupled with an enthusiastic and skilled workforce. Creating an effective team ethos and culture is central to the progression of the organisation, and Rob gave us an insight in to how they do this at STV:
Be accessible internally and externally
Instil confidence in the team
Know when to make change in your organisation
Communication internally with staff is key — they must be informed
Implement and measure your KPI’s
Companies can ‘super perform’ by inspiring others to over achieve
Rob talked about the 3 pillars of STV — Connectivity, Community and Creativity. Our data rich environment means we know more about customers than ever before, and STV utilise this information to create a community with customers. At STV customer insight is key to enabling new relationships, something that Rob insists is a marketing must for all businesses who want to survive and thrive.