Nobody wants to be Ebenezer Scrooge. No one wants to be seen as the grumpy old man in the black cloak and hat, devoid of joy. So why is it that many businesses treat their customers that way?
The Paramount Value of Customer Connection
I am often asked, of all the values of the modern consumer, which is the most important when it comes to the brand and customer connection. While the actual answer is dependent on so many things, it really comes down to making your customer feel something, building an emotional bond, but often brands seem intent to make customers feel bad.
So many businesses and brands are commodity and sales focused, customers seen as a route or conduit to revenue and profit. This no longer works with the modern consumer.
A Loyalty Offer or A Profit Scheme?
Last week I received a cold call from my cable-TV provider, SKY. I have been a customer for over 8 years, and have multiple other TV providers I can choose from, all offering the same commodity offering to be honest. So, in a way, they are lucky to have had my business and I can change anytime.
The sales representative told me, because of my loyalty over the years, they would like to offer me a one-month upgrade to access all of their specialist movie channels, for free. Sounds good so far, but knowing how these companies operate, I asked him what would happen at the end of that month? He replied I would have to contact them and request the additional service be cancelled, otherwise the upgrade would automatically be added to my monthly bill going forward.
This is so disappointing. A brand had a regular customer, and with one phone call, showed their usual revenue/profit greed. Such an offer is not designed to genuinely reward loyalty. If it was, it would have been “please have all the movie channels for one month and let us know afterwards if you enjoyed them”. But instead, they have gone for the sneaky ‘get a customer on board and try and sneak in the additional monthly cost going forward’ model. Make it difficult for the customer to cancel, upsell them and disguise it as a gift. They went for the Scrooge approach. Profit first.
This is everything that is wrong with CX and our capitalist approach today.
Companies offering new customers a better deal than the existing ones they already have. Brands locking customers into 12 or 24-month contracts to hold them (as opposed to having a product/service that is genuinely good). Brands hiding immoral decisions behind lengthy terms & conditions, denying their customer a benefit. Business focused on the next sale, not the last one.
We thought the pandemic would reframe consumer and brand interactions. We had such an opportunity. Consumers and businesses all shared a common experience. We rediscovered what mattered – connection, community, vulnerability. The post-pandemic world was going to be a more caring, compassionate pace. Capitalism would perhaps have a little ‘c’ instead of the giant capital one it had become. But many brands have missed their opportunity.
The Christmas Spirit: More Than Just Advertising
But it is Christmas, and as we all know, even Scrooge saw the error of his ways and redeemed himself in time. At this time of year, brands put out their cozy, warm, emotional Christmas adverts. But a bit like puppies, customers aren’t just for Christmas, they’re for life. One good Christmas campaign doesn’t really fix anything if you’re CX isn’t sparkling the rest of the year.
However, as is tradition, I will hero some campaigns that I think have something interesting to contribute to our consumer and sociological conversation. Last year, we featured campaigns around surprise & delight, belonging and effort (click here to watch some classic tear jerkers – trust me if you missed last year, it is worth your while)
This year the three big brand campaigns have something in common. They all make a very simple point. We are all Santa. It is in our acts of service that we bring joy, and everyone has that ability, in every situation, with anybody they meet, every day.
1. Coca-Cola’s campaign entitled ‘The World Needs More Santas’ puts the focus back on the everyday. It is a lovely message around community, empathy and compassion.
2. The Amazon campaign, entitled ‘Joyride’ showcases how gift giving can unlock joy, togetherness and belonging.
3. And lastly Apple with their ‘Fuzzy Feelings’ 4-minute film. Again, this explores a traditional theme around loneliness at Christmas time, and concludes that we can all do our bit, no matter how small.
Watch these three campaigns. Believe me, it’ll be good for your soul.
So, this Christmas, take a look at every customer touch point in your business and ask yourself the question, where am I being a Scrooge? Where might a customer feel let down, feel like you are making it more about you than about them? Where could you be a bit more Santa, and not just in December but every day? Where can you look out for your customers more than profit from them? Get that right and you have the right to wear the red suit.
Remember, if you truly want to build Customer Lifetime Value, CX is not just for Christmas, it’s for life.
Give your audience the gift that keeps on giving this Christmas. Book Ken to speak at your next event.
Ken Hughes, known as The King of Customer Experience on the International Conference Circuit, studies emerging consumer behaviour and helps businesses and brands establish deeper and more relevant connections with their customers.
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