Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘in the name of scale

Let’s go around the room. And We have Ebola

September 28, 2014

Two purposes of user feedback

What’s a customer worth?

A customer at the local supermarket or at the corner Fedex Print shop might spend $10,000 or even $25,000 over the course of a few years.

That’s why marketers are so willing to spend so much time and money on coupons, promos and ads getting people to start doing business with us.

But what happens when it goes wrong?

What if a service slip or a policy choice threatens that long-term relationship?

If you know what’s broken, you can fix it for all the customers that follow.

It seems obvious, but you want to hear what customers have to say. After all, if people in charge realize what’s not working, the thinking is that they might want to change it.

At the same time, a critical but often overlooked benefit of open customer communication is that individuals want to be heard. Your disgruntled customer doesn’t want to hear you to make excuses, and possibly doesn’t even want you to fix yesterday’s problem (probably too late for that), but she does want to know that you know, that you care, and that it’s not going to happen again.

Merely listening, really listening, might be enough.

Big organizations (and smaller, unenlightened ones) grab onto the data benefit and tend to ignore the “listening” one. Worse still, in their desire to isolate themselves from customers, they industralize and mechanize the process of gathering data (in the name of scale) and squeeze all the juiciness out of it.

If you live in the US, you might try calling 800-398-0242. That’s the number Fedex Print lists on all their receipts, hoping for customer feedback.

It’s hard to imagine a happy customer working her way through all of these menus and buttons and clicks, and harder still to imagine an annoyed customer being happy to do all of this data processing for them.

The alternative is pretty simple: if you’re about to lose a $10,000 customer, put the cell phone number of the regional manager on the receipt. That’s what you and I would do if we owned the place, wouldn’t we?

Answer the phone and listen. It’s an essay test, not multiple choice.

When in doubt, be human.

We have Ebola

It’s tragic but not surprising to watch the marketing of another epidemic unfold.

It starts with, “We” don’t have Ebola, “they” do.

They live somewhere else, or look different or speak another language. Our kneejerk reaction is that “they” need to be isolated from us (more than 55% of Americans favor a travel ban for everyone, not just the sick).

Even 50 years ago, a travel ban was difficult, now it’s impossible. The world is porous, there are more connections than ever, and we’ve seen this before.

Tuberculosis. Polio. AIDS.

Fear runs rampant, amplified by the media, a rising cycle of misinformation, demonization and panic. Fear of the other. Pushing us apart and paralyzing us.

The thing is:

We are they.

They are us.

Education—clear, fact-based and actionable education—is the single most effective thing we can do during the early stages of a contagion.

Diseases (and ideas) spread because of the social structures we have created, and we can re-engineer those interactions to dramatically change the R0 of a virus.

Ebola doesn’t ‘know’ that large funerals are traditional, but it certainly takes advantage of them to spread. Ideas don’t ‘know’ that bad news travels fast, and that the internet makes ideas travel faster, but they take advantage of this to spread.

Cable TV voices that induce panic to make their ratings go up are directly complicit in amplifying the very reactions that magnify the impact of the virus. Attention-seeking media voices take us down. All of us.

It’s tempting to panic, or to turn away, or to lock up or isolate everyone who makes us nervous. But we can (and must) do better than that.

Panic, like terror, is also a virus, one that spreads.

We have an urgent and tragic medical problem, no doubt, but we also have a marketing problem.

Let’s go around the room

If you say that in a meeting, you’ve failed.

You’ve abdicated responsibility and just multiplied the time wasted by the number of people in the room.

When we go around the room, everyone in the room spends the entire time before their turn thinking about what to say, and working to say something fairly unmemorable.

And of course, this endless litany of ‘saying’ leads to little in the way of listening or response or interaction or action of any kind.

The worst example I ever saw of this was when Barry Diller did it in a meeting with 220 attendees. More than two hours later, everyone in the room was bleeding from their ears in boredom.

Leaders of meetings can do better.

Call on people. Shape the conversation. Do your homework in advance and figure out who has something to say, and work hard to create interactions.

Either that or just send a memo and cancel the whole thing. It’s easier and probably more effective.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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