Tag Archives: Customer Lifetime Value

CRM Not Working? Try Brian.

I like to play golf. I also use fairly good equipment. My Taylor Made clubs are fitted. I have had them for over 10 years and I really like them. The other day, my 3-iron (21 degree loft) club head came loose so I needed to have it repaired. I went to Golf Town, a chain of ‘big box’ stores in Canada.

At first, I was skeptical that Golf Town actually had people who could do much beyond chatting me up about the lastest in golf equipment technology. If I want to improve my game I have 2 basic choices: take lessons, play more often. In fact,  the only technology that has really led to the amateur’s game improvement over the years has been the lawn mower rather than golf equipment. Well, maybe the golf ball. As Sam Snead once said, “You can not go into a shop and buy a good game of golf.”

So I went to Golf Town. At the repair counter and was greeted by Brian, an elderly chap replete with apron, all kinds of club heads, shafts, vices and grips. Brian informed me that indeed all he had to do was put the club head back on with epoxy glue and it would be fine. There was no damage to the club itself. Brian also noted the club as a Taylor Made Rescue, a fine utility club in his view, that needed a new grip and he just happened to have the last one for that particular model in stock. I was skeptical – I first thought Brian was trying to upsell me on a new grip that I didn’t really need.

Then Brian said “You’ve had this grip the entire time you owned the club”. He was dead right. I looked at the club again and realized how much the grip had worn down. Brian also explain that because of Taylor’s “bubble shaft” design that was now out of production, so were the replacement grips. It all made sense so I agreed to have the club re-gripped. The only catch was that the club was not going to be ready until Wednesday morning. I then explained to Brian this was fine, in that I could live without my 3-iron for a day as I had a game lined up very early Wednesday, out of town.

Much to my delight, Brian then said to me: “No problem, I’ll move some orders around and have the club ready by 3 pm today”.  Lo and behold, just as I returned to pick up my club, Brian was actually on the phone calling me to let me know everything was ready.

Was this customer service? At it’s most basic level maybe. At the core, this was really textbook relationship management, not of the ‘experience engineering’ sort but a natural and effortless execution of a memorable customer experience. It was building loyalty and forming a bond between a customer and a craftsman. I left the store feeling that I can now trust someone to repair my golf equipment from now on. All it took was someone – Brian – to understand how to treat people. The transaction, the sale, took care of itself.

You cannot go to your technology provider and buy a good game of CRM.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

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No Ticky No Laundry: The Unservice Service

My 75 year-old mother-in-law recently inquired, via the web, about a laundry product that she has been using for years.  In response,  Church & Dwight employed what is known in CRM-Customer Relationship Management as “the customer service apology” method:

 Subject: Reply from Web Form Regarding ARM & HAMMER® Super Washing Soda

Thank you for visiting our web site recently.  We have received your e-mail regarding ARM & HAMMER® So Clean! Super Washing Soda. We appreciate your interest in our product and are sorry you are having difficulty finding it in your area.

Because so many products compete for space on grocers’ shelves, stores sometimes must limit their offerings to those with the greatest demand. You might mention your interest in our product to the store manager where you shop and he or she may be able to order it for you.

Please understand that we are not able to process individual consumer orders.  And since we work through brokers that distribute our products to retailers, we are unable to give you the names of specific stores in your area that carry our products.

Again, thank you for taking the time and having the interest to contact us.  If you have any questions or concerns in the future, please call us at 1-866-931-9741.

We hope you will visit our web site again at: WWW.CHURCHDWIGHT.CA for information about our company, products, history, and financial information.

Church & Dwight Consumer Relations Representative

 

You may wonder why, in this age of location technology (bar codes, RFID), how a manufacturer could be so clueless as to where its own product is within the distribution channels. By contrast, food companies can locate any shipment.

Being a resourceful sort, my mother in-law has gone with Team Borax.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Cross-posted @ cloudave: http://www.cloudave.com/link/no-ticky-no-laundry-the-unservice-service

Social Media is a Croc

There’s an awful lot of chit chat on social media networks about Apple’s latest product – the iPad. This is yet another successful product launch and continued revolution that Apple is leading in bringing new technology appliances to the consumer marketplace. It’s absolutely stunning that Apple doesn’t spend a cent on social media yet has garnered an enormous amount of publicity (admittedly good and bad) from people who just can’t help talking about Apple products on the social web. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Apple doesn’t spend any money advertising on social networks – all of the publicity through Word-of-Mouth from those who desire, own and love to talk about Apple’s products is FREE anyway.

By the way, anyone who purchased Apple shares a few years ago would have made enough money to fund their iApple desires for the next decade…

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

HBR – The Social Media Bubble: Opinion

Umair Haque, Director of Havas Media Lab, recently posted a thought piece in the Harvard Business Review .

In general, Haque hypothesizes that Social Media doesn’t really connect people but instead, creates the semblance of relationships. Haque states, Social Media is ” largely home to weak, artificial connections, what I call thin relationships.”  He goes on to say “Today, ‘social’ media is trading in low-quality connections — linkages that are unlikely to yield meaningful, lasting relationships.”  Here are my own observations relating to some of Haque’s supporting points.

Truth: If we take social media at face value, the number of friends in the world has gone up a hundredfold. But have we seen an accompanying rise in trust? I’d argue no.

Agreed. In fact the word ‘friend’ is used very loosely in the social media vernacular. To me, a friend is someone that I know and trust. Most of us have about 5 real friends in our lives whom we trust implicitly. The rest are aquaintances, people that we are tied to loosely via circumstance like work, associations, clubs or…Facebook and Twitter. What we have seen a rise in is conversation amongst relative strangers under the pretense of ‘friending’. Caveat Eggshell.

Disempowerment:  If social tools were creating real economic gains, we’d expect to see a substitution effect. They’d replace — disintermediate — yesterday’s gatekeepers. Yet, increasingly, they are empowering gatekeepers.

It’s been notable that service providers such as PR agencies, advertising agencies and media consultancies have been vying for ownership of social media within the advertiser domain re. client side of business. They advocate the social media imperative, are evangelical in their style of persuasion and purport to offer social media “ROI”. They fall short by ignoring the element of accountability – something ingrained in traditional media. There is however, substitution in the form of reallocating traditional media dollars to digital. In this regard though, the financial equation is incomplete: digital is cheaper but the material business benefits are elusive. Quantified returns, in management accounting terms, are a work in progress.

Value: The ultimate proof’s in the pudding. If the “relationships” created on today’s Internet were valuable, perhaps people (or advertisers) might pay for the opportunity to enjoy them. Yet, few, if any, do — anywhere, ever. .. I can swap bits with pseudo-strangers at any number of sites. “Friends” like that are a commodity — not a valuable, unique good.

This is a tough one. Social Media is increasingly seen as a near free channel or pipe to deliver content, customer service and promotional offers. It’s also cheap in the sense that it has the capacity to diminish the value of fact-based, expert content while simultaneously encouraging the rise of ill-founded, non fact-based crowdsourced opinion. In this context, success is all too often gauged in purely quantitative terms (# of fans or followers) rather than say, degree of loyalty/willingness to recommend. In a similar vein, it is problematic to prove that people are who they say they are in the world of social networks, as many use avatars to represent themselves. If something is a known unknown then how does one ascribe value? 

There also exists an element of social media that is redundant, maybe superfluous, in terms its effect (non-effect?) on consumers. For many brands, the franchise is well entrenched (Tide, McDonald’s, BMW, Wal-Mart and of course, Apple) and the principles of The Discipline of Market Leaders are in place. These same brands already have meaningful relationships and established trust with consumers pre-Internet. Social Media is not about to change this any time soon, though to some, it may appear that way.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

(Cross-posted at Cloud Ave and reprinted by IBM Business Insight Blog)

My New Levi Jeans: Outside “The Social Bubble”

I just bought a new pair of Levi’s. Blue jeans. Levi’s 501 with the red tab. I bought them because my 10 year old pair are done. I also have a black pair. I have always bought Levi jeans since I was in high school. While we all struggled to carve our our own identities, fitting in was important. Funny thing is, we all wore the same but different (?)  ‘uniform’ – Levi jeans, Bass Weejuns and Lacoste tennis shirt.

To be clear, I don’t think about Levi’s as an ‘iconic brand’. There’s little that is iconic about a 100+ years American brand now made in Bangladesh and Mexico. Instead, I want to relate this post to a couple of things that had nothing to do with why I bought by latest pair of Levi jeans. 

Social Media had nothing to do with my purchase. It did not influence, there was no online conversation, no online recommendation, not even a visit to a Levi website, microsite, Facebook page or banner ad. No online activity whatsoever. I didn’t even wonder if the Levi’s brand would be my ‘friend’. Social Media didn’t exist when I bought my first pair of Levi’s; it’s utterly irrelevant to this day. 

I am not part of a Levi community, online, offline, inline or out of line. While I may be one of millions who wear Levi’s jeans, I don’t have discussions about the brand, don’t care whether or not others wear the brand and don’t care what others think, feel or experience about the Levi brand. I wasn’t connected to a ‘friend’ that I ‘trusted’ or had an online ‘relationship’ with.

I didn’t go into a Levi retail outlet or even a jeans store. Just went to a chain department store to the menswear department. 

I have never bought another brand of jeans, never will. If someone gave me a pair from another brand, I would give them away. 

This was purely a value exchange. I paid my money, got new Levi’s. I bought them because I like them more than any other brand of jeans. I just do.

To paraphrase a recent quote from “The Social Bubble” in the Harvard Busness Review, “Levi’s makes awesome stuff”.

I am a Levi’s 501 jeans with-the-red-tab customer for life.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Why just be Social when you can have a Relationship?

Facebook "Friends"?

I must give credit to the crowds for one thing after all: if it weren’t for the popularity of Social Media, I never would have thought of the idea of Relational Media. Since I first started in the business of providing online brand monitoring  and business insight services to corporations, the Social Media “industry”, if you may call it that, has gone through many an identity crisis.

Back in 2004, we talked a lot about ‘user/consumer generated content’ (UGM/CGM). The next iteration, with much credit to the folks at WOMMA, was to bring some structure and definition to this emerging media, so the term WOM – Word of Mouth Marketing, came into the lexicon. Lately it’s been called “Social Media”, largely defined (and some will,  of course, disagree with this definition) as the use of online software applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be ‘social’ with many, without necessarily having to be bothered with the responsibilities inherent in a Relationship (dating sites might disagree here).

Lifetime Relationship

As many of us have witnessed, there has been so much hand-wringing, whining, debate and general consternation by agencies, PR firms, evangelists and self-styled social media artistes about  making Social Media work, period, never mind the monetization aspect. My steely resolve has been to deal with Social Media head on: call it Relational Media.

Why you ask? Well, it comes down to Human nature. We all crave, to some extent, love, recognition and respect.

Brands also feel this way as they seek to initially be social with people but eventually want to head to the altar and be your mate for life.  Is that not what Customer Lifetime Value is all about – attracting, retaining and developing profitable customers for life? Minute Maid, Crest, Toyota, Land’s End, Timex, Apple, Lufthansa, Marriott and many other brands don’t just want you to browse an end-of-aisle display or take a test drive, they want you to take them home.

We do this every day. I’ve used Tide because my mother did. I’ve been drinking Coca-Cola since I was a kid. I always stay at a Marriott property when I travel on business. I’ve worn Brooks Brothers button-down oxcloth shirts since I went to college… you get the picture.

So, there it is. Simple. Media that enables brands to build a relationship – packaging, television, conversations, the Internet or a coupon, whatever – not just a speed date. Relational media is an enabler of Customer Relationship Management

It’s great to be part of the crowd but it’s even better when you can have a friend for life. Relational Media.