Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Consumers now in control so brands like First Direct now keen to spotlight customer services

It’s a funny old world. There is a lot of talk about cuts. Many purchases are being made by people counting their pennies. However, we now also live in a social media world and someone who’s upset with the service they’ve had are now in a position to complain very loudly indeed. We can’t but help notice these complaints as they ripple through our social networks.

What’s the result? The result is that brands like First Direct – and I can think of others – are understandably very keen to point out when they’ve a tried and trusted customer care program in place. Other brands are looking to CRM in advance of – or part of – their social media campaign.

This was a key point made by Håkan Thyr, the partnership director at consumer review company Baazarvoice, at our recent summit. Skip ahead a minute to cut straight to Håkan’s soundbyte in the summary video below or watch his entire presentation here .

I believe a good example of consumers in control of a brand is Gap. Just look at what happened to their attempt to change logo. The new logo lasted a matter of days. The old logo, the brand identity that people preferred is back.

An article at Econsultancy raised an interesting point, though:

At more than 1,000 responses, an interesting fact emerged: only 17% of those polled even knew that Gap had posted a new logo. What's more: 43% of those polled indicated that a new logo wouldn't influence a buying decision; far fewer -- 29% -- claimed that a new logo would have such an influence

We know what they say about stats though.

Is the key point then that the publicly shared thoughts of a few were enough to effect the brand. Could they effect the brand perception of the many. If Gap had refused to change their logo, had they resisted the crowd mentality, would they now being accused of not listening?

It’s not surprising that First Direct are looking to push the customer care line and use it as part of a social media outreach. The brand, after all, already made the news by making it easy to see what Twitter’s sentiment was about them at any given time.

The new strategy is to send “Buddies” out onto the streets of London and help people. Sure; it’s set up but it raises awareness. It means even in an economic climate where we’re braced for cuts and changes that neither companies nor people wish to demote all choices to simple price comparison. Companies now have to be helpful in order to be competitive.

Here’s a quick video of some of the First Direct buddies in action.

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