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Who knows who came first? brands or customers? What we can say is that none of them can exist and sustain without the other. But brands that want to keep their customers “safe” for a long time, one day started to think: well, what about if I decided to care now more closer, about my customers…;-) ? Yeah, no big deal, in fact. But why?

If we look at several argues that lead a company to do so, we have:

– economics needs: customers are now more than stakeholders but close to “shareholders” – we can say that even having any stocks of the company, they draw the line for the brand by their buyings-; they decide to stop or go with fidelity, and have a strong responsability on brand doom. If the customer changes by consuming a brand (in his habits, social behavior…), the brand can be changed too by customers advises: glory or death?

– social effects: brand needs to play a social role, in the several uses it can provide (new we hope…). Making happiness with a new product needs high skill, but make it real and exploit it in a bulk place is another goal. If the customer reaches such nirvana, he can make it viral to others, changing the face of society

– satisfy a need, that was not until this moment: achievement, success, purposed to targets, and accepted by customers. Brand has skills it can exploit, knows how to do it, knows how to promote it, making a real economic exchange: money against user benefit.

– customers that come from others: virality, buzz, leads brand to sell its products, targeting early adopters: customers to follow-up, by their fidelity will be connected to their real interest for the brand…caught, but not for the whole life…

We learned now that, by individual behaviors that grows far, “acting consumer”, wishes to be THE customer and not A customer among several ones. Rumours, buzz, advises, forums…we see now new shapes for relation between customers and brands, that is growing up each day more.  Beyond classical relation between “brand/agency/targets”. Emergency and likeness to express ourselves create other links, that brands can’t see, out of traditional medias : social sharing, communities, collaboration, equal point-of-view and advices are lots of disguised powers, that without any violence, can burst and shoot down brands, without they see it come.

Customer relationship is born. Because some brands want to keep their customers alive and active (weird isn’t it ;-). Quick growth for call centers, in several countries shows us the attention that has been created to exchanges and advises. Relation is not one way anymore, let the new codes come in, and damn to who can’t see them. Social web changes the value chain about knowledge, experts, official speakers and carry out other speech spaces, and lead to failure traditional behaviors: when you want now an information in the quickest way, who can you trust…web. And who writes on the web? Anyone. And before having a question, there’s now already an answer…Magic isn’t it?

According to IBM global business study about consumers, quest for the best price still works…and a good reason to be advised, guided by other buyers. And by the way, to be fed up with a brand, change and provide infidelity. The central fact for concil, prescription and advice is real: now, everybody knows all about everything, in the same time…What was a strategic advantage, few years ago: “information before everyone”; that was. How can brands can manage with the new situation?
Underlying, comes the sustainable HR concepts…Brands that take care of their customers can change them into “powersellers”: a happy and satisfied consumer is so a salesman who sleeps but can wake up as a brand’s soldier. Convincing neighborhood, circle of friends and family. That is to say as doubtless a high potential leverage of conquest for market share and new customers.
Let’s figure out the two faces of customer relationship: a satisfied customer can talk to average 3 or 4 close leads ; an unsatisfied can do it with more than 10, if he’s really upset…And you would still ignore that?

Let me introduce you to Kano’s model graph, illustrated with 3 concepts: unavoidable attempts of customers, normal ones and unsaid. Each of them have a trigger level.

kanogb

First of all, the basic ones (unavoidable) must be satisfied, supplied to a customer because they are obvious…They are not a real leverage for satisfaction but if you don’t get them…be careful about reactions.
The second ones (performance needs) are explained and requested by the customers, clearly. And satisfaction is directly linked to level of what is supplied: exact proportion. It’s a priority field of development in the consumer satisfaction, for sure.
Finally, last but not least, we go in a psychic face value, because it’s time for surprises! Consumers love to be surprised…and even for a hidden need, the revelation can provide such added satisfaction, that it can improve the brand attraction.

Customers, powersellers when they are satisfied….a real strategic goal if we consider the cost for new consumers. A real aim for fidelity and assets value: not financial ones, but customers, those who write the story of the brand. A strategic key to new markets, with new kind of attention to power of filled and satisfied relations. Are we going to still buy only products or services…?
No more now, we want to buy relation…

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