Archive for July, 2009

Customer Satisfaction Isn’t a Nastysickle

July 30, 2009

It’s easy to get confused about what customer satisfaction is and isn’t.

We needed antibiotics for our five-year-old daughter. Like most kids, she’s picky about flavor (hates grape, loves cherry). We explained this to the pharmacist at the major pharmacy chain.

Lacking cherry, they added a watermelon flavor on top of the grape (creating a flavor that, in our household, we have dubbed “nastysickle”) without asking us. They resisted giving back the prescription to have it filled elsewhere. (After all, then they’d have a bottle of nastysickle on their hands). We pushed, got it back and filled it with cherry at People’s Pharmacy.

If we’d walked out unhappily with the nastysickle we would have been considered satisfied. As we gave our daughter nastysickle medicine twice a day. Not the worst thing in the world, but far from a satisfied customer. They didn’t want to satisfy us. They just wanted us to go away and not show up as a return or complaint.

A satisfied customer isn’t someone you can convince to grudgingly take bad-tasting medicine. A satisfied customer isn’t someone who isn’t quite unhappy enough to demand their money back. It’s fine to measure returns and walkouts, but don’t call those customer satisfaction metrics. These days marketers fear that an unhappy customer will get over 4MM YouTube views. Some are so paranoid that they sue customers who tweet their dissatisfaction to 17 followers. I think we should worry more about unhappy customers who quietly take their nastysickle and leave, never to return.

A satisfied customer is glad they spent their money with you and recommends that others do the same.

Evaluating LinkedIn Recommendations

July 17, 2009

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An interchange on Twitter with @jowyang and @carissao got me thinking about LinkedIn recommendations. The question was this: do LinkedIn recommendations mean anything anymore? Seems to me that some do while others don’t. It depends on three people: the recommender, the recommendee, and the reviewer of the recommendation.

  • Recommender: fairly or not, a recommendation from a higher-ranking person may mean more as their time is often scarcer. More importantly, does the recommendation show unique detail about the person in question? Is there a bit of thought behind it, or does it look like a stock template? If in doubt look at other recommendations written by the same person.
  • Recommendee: A few high-quality recommendations beat a plethora of boilerplate ones. Some folks blast out a cattle call for recommendations to all their connections. Do that repeatedly and it’ll be evident that you value quantity over quality.
  • Reviewer: I’ve had two hiring managers tell me in the past year that “LinkedIn recommendations are worthless.” In Geoffrey Moore terms, one was a laggard (no LI profile) and one was an early adopter (heavy user of social media). Both thought of it as a system that could be easily gamed. Most people in Moore’s model are early or late majority. In my experience both as a hiring manager and as a job seeker, those early & late majority folks may still value LinkedIn recommendations. They read them judiciously just as they’d consider the source in evaluating any other kind of reference.

What are your experiences? Do you take LinkedIn recommendations seriously, and how do you evaluate them? Would they be improved if, as @jowyang and I discussed, there were an element of scarcity – if you had to choose wisely, knowing that you could only recommend a limited number of people? Where else do you look for recommendations and insight on candidates and potential business partners?

Update: @jowyang blogged on the same topic after our interaction – you can read his thoughts here. In the spirit of this discussion let me say that I heartily recommend it!

Update #2: It’s a rare occasion when this blog intersects with my other, much snarkier, blog. So it’s a special day when this happens.

Photo by otherthings

Free Ice Cream!

July 15, 2009

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A friend who used to be in the apartment-leasing business tells me that a common trick is to give away free ice cream.

What’s tricky about that? Well, it’s not a cone. Not a little pint of Ben & Jerry’s with a wooden spoon. People come in expecting something small to eat on the spot. Instead, they’re given a gallon of premium ice cream.

Apartment-hunters that see more than a few complexes remember mostly a blur of formica and amenities. The last apartment viewed is the most easily remembered. By giving them ice cream, my friend ensured that her apartment complex was the last one they toured before going straight home. Because leaving a gallon of ice cream in the back seat while you go from complex to complex can get messy.

Yeah, it’s a little bit evil and I’m not sure I advocate being so manipulative. But can you say “giving people ice cream is an evil thing to do” with a straight face? Officer, arrest that woman, she gave me ice cream!

As marketers we focus on driving awareness, consideration or purchase. Are there other behaviors you want your customers to engage in? Sharing your content, talking about your product or even just going straight home?

Why Codgers Don’t Use MySpace

July 13, 2009

Interesting post on TechCrunch regarding the report Morgan Stanley published on ‘Why Teens Aren’t Using Twitter: It Doesn’t Feel Safe.’ Let me toss out two reactions:

  • It’s good insight but it relies heavily on anecdotal insight from one 15-year-old. Even for qualitative focus-group research, that’s a small sample.
  • If the conclusion that teens prefer Facebook because it’s a closed network is true, I worry about their Internet savvy. Leaving aside any considerations of Facebook’s terms of service, the idea that your updates are only between you and your friends is recklessly naive at best. You can’t control cross-posting and resharing any more than you can control gossip, so don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the entire world’s Facebook wall. When my children become teenagers they’ll understand that. (I think the five-year-old already does, but she’s smarter than Dad).

Oh, and as far as the post title – I don’t know why codgers don’t use MySpace. Morgan Stanley might hire a 75-year-old intern so that they can answer that important question next. Me, I don’t use it because it annoys me and no one I want to interact with is on there. But I’m not a codger quite yet…am I?

Sponsored Links and Posts in the Texas Heat

July 1, 2009

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I see a lot more small businesses employing wavers this year – people standing by the roadside in the triple-digit Texas heat, holding signs promising big deals, waving at traffic.

A waver at the roadside may attract my attention to a business I didn’t know was there. That gets me in the door exactly once. After that it all depends on whether a customer gets value or not. Wavers are like an aggressive search engine marketing strategy, when you think about it.

I’ll see the waver again when I drive past tomorrow. (And I’ll see the sponsored link at the top of the Google results again tomorrow too – and I’ll see sponsored blog posts, for that matter). But I won’t stop because, in this case, the experience didn’t live up to the promise.

What if they’d put that waver to work inside the business, improving things like the broken ‘Open’ sign, the cleanliness of the shop, the speed of the service? Maybe a little more focus on making existing customers want to come back will translate into less of a need to flag down new ones at the roadside. Do it right – and maybe your existing customers will be the ones waving new customers into your shop.