Archive for July, 2010

Maybe Your Customers Don’t Want A Relationship With You

"Customer Effort Score" is a better indicator of likelihood to make additional purchases than either Net Promotor Score or Customer Satisfaction.

Much oxygen is wasted inside advertising agencies in this, the age of social media, bloviating about the desirability of using technology to build relationships between brands and consumers. Few stop to ponder the possibility that consumers don’t want a relationship.

This thought, however, has occurred to Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman and Nicholas Toman. They’ve written a provocative article in the Harvard Business Review called “Stop Trying To Delight Your Customers” (sorry, you may have to trade some personal information to read it for free). Their argument, which is backed up with some lovely statistics, is that exceeding the expectations of consumers is not nearly as good a way to increase purchase intent as simply removing the bits from your interaction with them that consumers consider to be an ass-whipping. People don’t need (or even want) to feel all a-tingle every time they come in contact with a brand. They just don’t want to be battered about the head and shoulders–either online or in person–to get something done. The key metric is the Customer Effort Score, which, as you have doubtless already ascertained, measures the energy a consumer has to put into dealing with a company. Lower is better.

If you doubt this, think about how an industry like banking has changed. Technology has made it possible to accomplish almost any banking task at the time and place of our choosing. Convenience used to mean a branch on every corner. Now it means an ATM in every convenience store and an app on every smart phone. I would go so far as to say that any time you have to go inside a bank today, the “relationship,”–such as it is–has failed.

One mistake brands (and their agencies) consistently make is overestimating the importance of the role they play in the lives of consumers. Most brands are bit-players in our life stories–and maybe just extras. That being said, I’m not suggesting that delighting consumers is never a good idea. Sometimes it will be the only idea. But what I am suggesting is that we need to be more discriminating about when and where we do it. Marketing devolves into brute noise when everything we do is calculated to bludgeon with pleasure.

July 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm 1 comment


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