Occasionally I run across another blog that has something interesting to say about the topics that I find interesting and that I would like to share with my readers. Today I found just such a blog from Michael Koploy that discusses the importance of differentiation in the current retail environment. While much of my work explores the atmospheric methods that brick-and-mortar retailers can use to create chemistry with their customers, this blog also mentions the necessity of differentiating through customer service. As a proponent of what I called "extreme chstomer service" in my retailing days, I believe he is right on the mark with this suggestion and several others that he makes.
Check out Ted's blog entry at:Let me know your thoughts as well.
My partner and I recently went to a restaurant that we heard had an especially appealing menu for us. We traveled off the beaten path to find it and walked past the outdoor server who told us that he had a two-top for us inside. We seated ourselves and waited for menus . . . and waited . . . and waited. After about 15 minutes of waiting and exchanging confused looks with the staff that seemed to have no problem waiting on the other folks in what was trying to be a trendier-than-thou hole in the wall, we got up to leave. The only person to acknowledghe our presence since we stepped inside was a woman behind the bar who simply said, "Bye." My partner was so angry by the time that we got to the car that he turned around to let someone in charge know exactly why they had just lost the business of a family that eats out A LOT. He returned to the car a few minutes later, exasperated after being unable to find anyone who would even acknowledge his presence again. Unable to resolve the situation, he did what any disgruntled patron does in today's world -- he went to the restaurant's Facebook page and posted about our experience. He felt better knowing that other patrons might be warned and saved from the same experience. We went to dinner somewhere else and enjoyed the rest of our evening. The next morning we checked the Facebook page to see if anyone else has shared similar experiences. To our surprise, the restaurant's social media attendant had apparently been much more attentive than the waitstaff. His comment had been removed. This process has repeated several times since.
Being someone who researches and teaches retailing and word of mouth, I have been thinking about this situation a lot. How would a marketing-savvy company handle this situation. No company wants to see its own social media presence tarnished with bad reviews, but research shows that growing numbers of customers tend to rely on those reviews, even discounting the ones that are too glowing as possible "plants". But research also shows that a well-managed recovery from service failure often instills even more loyalty than the offended customer orginally experienced. So, the answer seems simple. A marketing-savvy company would have responded publicly to the complaint on their site with an apology and explanation of the poor service. Even if they didn't feel they were in error, this smart company would take advantage of the opportunity to show all of their site visitors that they are responsive to customer complaints. Since they had the contact information of the upset patron -- something that many service providers would love to have but often lack -- they could have sent a personal note asking for another chance. Even without offering any kind of consolation merchandise, they could repair the failure.
What this company did was something that many companies would rather do. They made the complaint disappear. Hoping that few people had seen it, they simply deleted it from their site. What they didn't know is that my partner is a pitbull when it comes to justice, and he has time to make sure that his complaint is reposted. Will the site visitors who notice this complaint that appears and reappears on their site like a flasing neon light think badly of the company that doesn't want to hear the bad things the their customers have to say, only the good?
Will this comment make a big difference in their bottom line? Probably not. But it does something that does a have long-lasting impact. It makes those potential customers who read reviews at company websites and other sites a little less trusting of the comments they see there. If the really bad ones are removed, then is there any value to reading the good ones? If conusmers lose confidence in their ability to trust these websites, they become useless. And if consumers lose confidence in their ability to complain effectively, what happens? As I write, there are a lot of people gathered in cities around the world as part of the "Occupy" movement who provide the answer to that question.
As marketing researchers we sometimes wonder whether our research matters to practitioners. This is an example of a case when practitioners should take note.
If you're reading this blog entry and you've been to the site before, you have probably noticed a big difference in the look and feel of the site. As I was writing about the importance of one's promotional materials matching the personality and values of the product (In this case, that's me!), I realized that my website didn't do that at all, so I got busy. I have spent the last three weeks completely redesigning my site. The result is a much more sophisticated, sleek, informative site with a little bit of flash. That's me all over!
Be sure and check out some of these new features:
- The MktgMike Daily News will provide daily updates on topics related to marketing and education.
- News feeds on the home page will also be updated several times a day to reflect up-to-the-minute happenings in the worlds of advertising, technology, marketing, and marketing education.
- More descriptive tabs will make it easier to find the exact portion of the site that interests you most.
- And, hopefully, the new look will make the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
OK, now you have lots of reasons to check out my page every day. Let me know what you think!
But what does it mean?
Engagement is a construct that a lot of academics and practitioners talk about, but we can't really agree on what it means. Advertising types think they know. To them, it's when an ad viewer feels "switched on" by the ad. Management types think they know. To them, it's when an employee feels that they are a part of the firm. Consumer behavioralist types know they don't know, but they think about it a lot. Even consumer types have a version of engagement. To them, it means that they're about to be married.
Is there a common thread that runs through all of these concepts? To me, it would seem to be a desire to participate in the object of engagement. Engaged ad viewers are intrigued by the ad and want to particpate by having the product. Engaged employees have a desire to participate fully in the business of their employer. Engaged consumers want to partipate in the experience of the product or service or their surroundings. And even engaged individuals are expressing their desire to participate in marriage.
So if engagement is a construct that we all talk about, we need to agree on what it means in order to fully study and measure it. I suggest that engagement can be simply stated.
Engagement is an affective desire to participate in focal object.
This works for all disciplines and allows us to begin trying to effectively measure the construct.
What do you think? Send me your ideas about engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear what other people think.