- Brand management is more than marketing, but is now measured in terms of customer experience.
- A negative critique is an opportunity to learn and create positive advocacy, in essence driving organic advertising.
- Companies must provide utility and real engagement rather than superficial PR engagement.
The new digital marketer is savvy and cynical. Inadequacies in product or customer service provision are going to be articulated to a wide audience and these written critiques are easily indexed by search engines as well as being readily shared via social media channels. Consumers are now ‘the marketers’ via advocacy of brands through multiple channels, chopping and changing as they see fit.
Hiding your head in the sand will not work. If you do not engage with consumers, your competitors will. They will take a leadership role in terms of advocacy and acquisition of your customers.
By resolving customer issues, brands are able to create an auditable trail of accountability and advocacy from those they have assisted, allowing them to use their customer service effort as a marketing tool.
Social media brand management strategies to boost customer acquisition
The strategies that brands should be implementing to boost customer service performance on and (arguably) offline include:
- Engage with negative sentiment and provide legitimate answers to critiques. Companies cannot simply offer brand vision rhetoric because this will not counter the fact that a single bad experience means that 80% of consumers will never use your product or service again.
- Brands can only provide utility value online – in fact, they are defined by the utility they provide. Providing a new branded ‘mini-site’ which provides nothing more than an explanation of your brand strategy is not only a waste of money but will not attract enough users to make the spend rational. This also does not mean simply providing additional channels of access. If these channels are troubled with the same service bottlenecks as existing channels then it will only compound the workload. Faking it will not work. Just because you are on Twitter and Facebook does not mean you are responsive to consumers’ complaints or requirements.
- Brands are remembered for the value they provide in terms of resolving issues, answering queries and creating interfaces which enable a meaningful consumer experience. Extending the proposition you make to the consumer which provides tangible value to them is a way of making your application (brand) sticky and engaging. These extensions must provide tangible value though and cannot be novelties.
Opportunities to change perception
How brands are perceived is changing rapidly – especially for brands which have very low differentiation in the market (e.g. banks, insurance, utilities, and telecommunications). Brand value now equals utility value. Companies would be vastly better served by actively differentiating in the level of customer service they provide rather than trying to create a jingle or branded device which causes people to recall their brand. For these companies it is absolutely imperative to provide legitimate utility value , in order to retain and also acquire new customers.
A negative critique is an opportunity to learn and also to create positive advocacy which is quickly becoming the only legitimate form of advertising. A disgruntled customer is obviously open to an offer and those companies that are listening and quickly respond will not only retain these customers, but protect their brand reputation.
Social media has made consumer advocacy far more prevalent – and the best way to win consumer advocacy is to engage on a deeper level. Companies that conceive, plan and implement customer centric strategies will be survivors in a market place where consumer commentary has become both sales force and marketing capability. Market leaders will be defined by how quickly they can locate, access and take advantage of consumer advocacy.
Companies must provide utility and real engagement rather than superficial PR engagement. Companies that achieve this will take marketing leads, and improve customer acquisition at the expense of the companies that fall behind.