In this full-blown customer-driven economy, we all know a single mistake can lead to a scorching social media shaming, with potential long-term brand impacts, although some brands need no help from customers and inflict self-harm single-handedly. What can B2B companies learn from B2C? Red Lobster’s lame Twitter response to Beyoncé’s release of Formation comes to mind. In case you missed it, Beyoncé’s mention of the chain led to a 30% surge in customer visits around the time of the SuperBowl but the restaurant’s bungling of the opportunity tarnished the brand, at least among social media illuminati.
In any case, a repeated pattern of customer care gaffes certainly impairs revenue. Customers are people and people want to be respected. If you re-frame your relationship with your customer to think about how you can respect their time, reduce the effort level and the friction in doing business with you and lower their frustration, you can and will squash competition is that merely trying to delight the customer. Companies like Zappo’s that flatter customers and kill with kindness have raised expectations for the supremacy of the customer. There is no getting around those table stakes, but what are you going to do to go beyond it? Famously, at least among its regional devotees, fast food chain In N’ Out knocks out the competition with its French fries cut and fried to order and fresh ingredients in its burgers. Its limited menu is entirely forgivable. Competitor Five Guys Burgers and Fries, though, allows customers order on-line or through an app and promises the order in seven minutes. It doesn’t need cut-to-order fries if the customer doesn’t have to wait in a drive-through line for 20 minutes. Convenience is a key to treating the customer with respect and earning repeat business.
We know from the science of behavioral economics that people have a really hard time resisting what looks like a good bargain. This is why Black Friday hurts our wallets so much and we might feel black and blue from buyers’ remorse come Saturday morning. Did we really need that gadget and are we really going to find time to use that Thai massage before it expires? Any customer loyalty that might have accumulated from the last bargain will erode once the new Groupon is past the expiration date. Hence, the rise of a secondary market for expiring Groupons. Anytime your business spurs another industry to clean up your mess, trouble is brewing. Be wary of tantalizing your customer into a deal that is not really a deal after all because they don’t want it. Such tactics rarely work in the long term. Groupon’s success shows no end in sight with its international expansion, new platform and emphasis on a pull strategy, but how much more profitable could it be if it addressed buyer’s remorse better? By contrast, Bed, Bath and Beyond is a no-risk shopping experience. They take anything back. Once I was in the returns line behind a woman who asked for her money back for a blanket. The reason given (and accepted)? Her cat peed on it. Do you think that customer would ever shop anywhere else for home goods?
If you are concerned with your company’s sales and marketing effectiveness, one way to halt downward spiral in that arena is to re-frame your relationship with the customer. Think like the retail bosses even if you are at a B2B company about why are you are making choices for one business over another. If you truly respect your customer, consider how you are making their lives more convenient (stop bashing Rocket Mortgage and think more like Quicken to remove barriers) and whether you are giving customers a deal they really want? T. Aloise & Co. are experts in sales and marketing effectiveness so let us know how we can help.
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