Tag Archives: advertising

What is Your Customer’s Experience? Take 2.5

The Hotel where I have found myself residing since Monday here in Newcastle, Australia in equipt with what I refer to as the “room power off” feature. If you’ve never experienced it before it is a slotted light switch just inside the door. When you enter the room you insert your card key into the slot and this turns the power on to the room. When you leave you take your key with you, obviously, and the room powers off.

A nice energy saving feature to be sure. Except…

When you power off the room you power off the clock radio. When you power off the clock radio you reset the clock. When you power the room on upon your return the clock radio informatively tells you it is 12:00…12:00…12:00. Nice power saving feature but a hassle to have to reset the clock every time I come in the room.

Lame.

This trip is one of several I have currently booked with United Airlines. When I go to the United web site and log in I am presetned with a list of all my current reservations. I can easily click on the VIEW button next to any of them to see the detailed itinerary. And then…it asks me to log in again.

Lame.

We were wending our way down restaurant row in Newcastle the other night looking for a dining adventure. We found ourselvs attracted to a particular place based on the menu posted out near the sidewalk. As we made our way to the counter where we anticipated placing an order we discoevered that the ONLY menu available was the one posted out by the sidewalk. There was no way, inside the store, to know what was available to eat.

Lame.

Great that you a want to save me money on my room by saving power costs but ridiculous that I have to reset the clock everytime I come in the room

Great that you want to protect my information but ridiculous that you make me log in after you have already shown you know who I am.

Great that you entice me with the menu but ridiculous that you set up your establishment like a drive through without a microphone.

I’ve been working on a paper on customer experience of late which, frustratingly, has put me in a position of looking at the world through customer experience tinted glasses. In the next wouple posts I’ll be looking at the concepts of customer effort and customer delight.  But in the mean time…

What other examples do you have of poor customer experience? 

The real  irony behind all this is that WordPress failed me no less than 5 times in trying to post this…post. If I hadn’t had a series of good experiences with WordPress THIS experience would have really set me off. 

The Power of Analogy, Story, and Illustration

It was two years ago I suppose, though it seems much longer ago. We were preparing to meet with several executives to discuss matters most serious and teasingly technical.

On the one side of the discussion were those of us who wanted to allow a “guest log in” feature to our web site that would allow even known users to begin conducting business without having to formally identify themselves.

On the other side of the discussion was the party that wanted known customers to continue to have to provide their customer number. Something every customer had but few knew and even fewer ever used for anything other than logging in to the web site.

On our side we had numbers, good numbers, interesting numbers. Numbers that showed abandoned transactions and numbers that showed potentially lost revenues and numbers that showed opportunity for growth.

On their side they had numbers, numbers I wanted to call bad but couldn’t, numbers that showed the amount of additional work in hours and dollars that spawned every time a known customer transacted  as though they were new ie: without using their customer number.

Ever have to go into one of those showdowns…er… meetings? In the worst instances voices raise, emotions boil and conclusions scamper out the window like so many scared rabbits. In the best instances they’re tedious affairs that result in begrudgingly compromised half-measures that wind up satisfying no one, something akin to rice pudding.

To make matters worse this conversation had been had before, several times. Each time each party brought new, more compelling numbers to bare and yet no one was compelled. So I suggested something new, devious perhaps, but new.

As each person arrived at the appointed meeting room a polite and warm representative greeted them outside the door.  “We’re glad you’re here!”, they exclaimed, “As a new measure of security for this meeting we’re asking that you provide the VIN from your automobile. Now we understand you may not have anticipated this new development but as your car is just outside in the parking lot, and the weather today is quite fine, it should be no trouble for you to track down the required information. If you’ve never used your VIN before it can be found on a small plaque on your dash or, in some cases, on the drivers side door.”

The  reactions were priceless and I could see them all because the meeting room had a small window in the door. I was seated inside having actually captured my VIN with my phone that morning.

Rather than going through the minor hassle of walking a couple hundred yards to provide the required credentials the surprised attendees tried to push past as though it were a joke. When they found the way blocked and the ‘doorman’ quite serious they actually headed for the elevator in a huff, not to get the number, but to leave the meeting! Ok, ‘huff’ is too weak a word, they were really hacked-off!

At this point our staunch doorman apologized for the minor ruse and allowed them to enter the meeting, as a guest.

The first words uttered in the meeting? “Ok, we get it. How do we fix it?”

Allow me to suggest three reasons why this approach worked, reasons that are universal benefits of using analogy, story and illustration.

1. It moved them from mind to heart.

We’d talked through all the issues before. Both sides knew the others arguments and rationale and in many cases agreed with the numbers. This experienced moved the conversation from a head talk to a heart talk. The participants understood the situation in a new way, one that moved from the intellectual to the emotional.

2. It moved them from observation to participation.

Interestingly enough the way we first start learning in life is through story and the BEST storytellers make us feel like we’re a part of the story! When my children were youngsters I read them the Harry Potter books. When the first film came out the boys’ comment was: “But dad, what if they get the voices wrong?!?” They’d been a part of the story in a way that made it feel like they had it the ‘right way’.

In the case of our meeting we actually put folks into the experience of the customers. It moved the presentation from being a story heard to a story lived. They experienced the voices of the customer in a way they hadn’t before as the voices became their own.

3. It moved them from understanders to believers

Understanding and belief, on the surface, seem like familiar bedfellows. The difference is in the mind versus the heart. I always understood that a cruise vacation could be restful but never believed it until I’d been on one…and another one…and another one…and another one!

Too many ‘corporate’ conversations rely solely on the head, the intellect, the numbers. We talk about mind share and convincing and countering objections. Just winning the intellectual argument often results in failure, “I agree with your numbers but I’m just not feeling it.” But find a way to win the heart and the head follows easily.

What near term opportunity do you have to use a story approach to communicating a corporate message? What’s holding you back from trying?

 

Relationship Building: The Four Levels of Agreement – Level 1

Last time we looked at how relationships grow through four levels of agreement. We identified the first level agreement as Cognitive Resonance, that instant where your attention is captured enough to create a connection, a first level agreement. We described Cognitive Resonance as:

It’s the brain buzz, the ‘click’, the “hey, that looks interesting”. It’s that thing that happens when the server walks by with someone else’s food and you start madly scrambling for the menu to see if you can figure out what that was because “THAT looked goooood.”

It’s that moment in a conversation with someone you’ve just met where you start to pay closer attention because you were suddenly struck with the thought, “Hey, I think there could be more to this person.”

It’s that third recommendation of a restaurant that makes you think, “Yeah, we should check that place out.”

Make sense? Good. So here’s the question of the day…

If you can identify what the moment of Cognitive Resonance feels like how do you inspire it in others?

Whether you’re trying to woo potential customers, build a congregation, or simply make friends knowing how to create that moment of Cognitive Resonance is key to getting out of the gate on the right foot. I believe there are two key operating principles you MUST  employ when you’re looking to create a moment of Cognitive Resonance for people.

Principle 1: It isn’t about you, it’s about them.

The picture at the top of this post is the first magazine ad I was ever tasked with creating. It was a half page ad in a magazine that was going to be distributed to all attendees at a large industry conference being put on by a large software company.  I looked at the ads that all of our competitors had done the previous year and they all sounded the same. “We’re the best.” “We’re the biggest.” “We have more.” ” We, We, We”  That’s why my ad emphasizes the word YOU. I wanted to start with the prospect in mind. In fact, we go so far as to tell them what they want. Pretty bold move.

This was an ad that I really thought would be more or less a throw away. We got it free as a sponsor of the event. But you would have been amazed at how many people came by our booth and mentioned it in one way or another. The change in approach that put the focus back on the customer prospect, rather than on trying to scream how good WE were louder than our competitors, actually caused people to pause. It created a moment of Cognitive Resonance.

Now I’ll admit, taking that approach you have to know pretty well what the prospect really wants. But that is exactly where marketing lives today. Traditional marketing was about screaming more loudly than the competition how good your stuff is and because it is so good, Mrs. Customer, you know you want it.

Relational marketing, or tribal marketing, or social marketing…whatever label we’re going to land on here shortly…is about understanding the customer and speaking to their need. And if you do THAT well you’ll create a moment of Cognitive Resonance.

Doing that WELL leads to principle number two.

Principle 2: Understand the customer and start where they are.

Customers, potential church attenders, soon to be friends all have needs both recognized and unrecognized. The better you can identify those needs the better you can meet them with a product, service, or relationship.

For years I sold software. People selling software always assume the customer wants to buy software. What started to bug me was that we sometimes lost the sale, to “no decision”. WHAT?!?! They bought NOTHING? The reason was that while software sales people were assuming that the customer need was for software, the customer felt they needed to solve a business problem. They HOPED software might solve it but the NEED was a solution to a business problem. In general then the bulk of the software sales people I was running across were starting in the wrong place!

We began creating presentations that said nothing about software. I had several CEO’s for whom I worked nearly go through the roof with me on that. Our presentations started talking about the business problem, in detail. Without fail we’d have a major prospect, or analyst, or board member stop us only a third of the way into our presentation and say, “You get this better than anyone else we’ve talked to. Now how do we solve it?”

By starting where the customer was, with their felt need, we were able to move very quickly to a moment of Cognitive resonance that set us apart from the competition. We also started selling more software.

Looking at your set of potential customers, or attendees, or friendships how can you start making the conversation more about them than about you?

With those folks you have in mind is there a difference between what they think they might need and what YOU think they might need? How can you start where they are and bridge the gap?

 

 

Commercial Perfection

Have you seen the new Perrier commercial?

This is really brilliant stuff, especially when held up next to much of what is being aired these days. If you’ve seen it in context, meaning on TV, it really stands out from the commercials on either side of it. Why? you may ask, what makes it so appealing? Let me suggest three simple elements:

1) It Understands the Medium:

Television is a visual medium. The visuals of all the melting landscape and props are artistic candy. Watch the actors as they interact with their melting surroundings…great stuff. There is a trend in commercials today to be more reliant on audio, the thought being that people are headed to the fridge with their back turned to the tube so we better give them an audio message. This piece is purely visual communication. Walk to the fridge with your back turned and you won’t know what the commercial is about but watch it, and you’re captivated.

2) It Tells a Story:

We’re drawn in early on to the mystery of why stuff is melting. We shown the main character with a look of confusion approaching panic. She moves toward resolution and then the story arc peaks as the bottle falls off the ledge, a moment of high tension. We get it, we know where this is headed because we’ve seen it before but the piece is so artistically done, the story so visually well told, that we follow it anyway.

3) It Resolves on the Product:

The moment we see the “heroine” drink deeply in the pool we think, or at least I thought, “refreshment”. No slogan is spoken, no print on the screen, but the idea is clear, and more importantly, it is centered on the product. Not the funny person in the video, not the comedic climax, not the tag line, the product. We’re given one word “Perrier” and we provide our own tag line, highly personalized, subconsciously.

What are the places in life where you are trying, or have to try, to convince people to do something, or try something, or decide something? Do your “commercials” understand the medium in which you’re presenting your idea? Do you have a story to tell? DO you focus on “the product”? The thing you want them to choose?

It may be trying to get your kids out of bed in the morning. It may be trying to convince a friend to start exercising with you. It may be trying to sell your boss on a new idea. How can you leverage these three elements to convince your audience in a more compelling way?