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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Does your marketing find high-performing customers?

Social media is making a long-standing marketing deficiency much more evident.

The objective of most corporate marketing departments has long been in getting more customers. Find a customer (segmented or not – you can always “fit” them to a segment later), make them aware of your offering, promote or incent trial, convert to a regular user, and work on increasing share of wallet.

Not nearly enough attention is paid to marketing that ensures a prospective customer will be presented with a offering that is right for them, or that they will be a right fit - a successful, and yes, productive, user of a company’s services.

With customer-company engagement ever more enabled by social media, poor company-customer matches stick out like a sore thumb, and marketing will be held accountable.

Service businesses – all of them – require the customer to fulfill a role as co-producer of a successful outcome.

All those role-related issues your marketing currently ignores – how difficult it is for the customer to learn their role, how much time you spend educating them, how willing are they to accept their role – today come back as frustration that your customer service or service operations organization sees firsthand. Your marketing research may have a sense of where these deficiencies reside in your organization.

Social media is changing that for good, and quickly. Poor customer performers – those unwilling or unable to be productive resources, those that do not contribute to service quality – are going to make themselves known. The court of public opinion will find you at fault for lousy service, when in truth you may have been providing outstanding service to someone who didn't fit your service model.

More focus than ever is coming to the quality of the customer fit that marketing produces. It is not a volume game anymore, so much as it is a value game.

The truth is that it always has been.

1 comment:

Barry Dalton said...

Excellent observation on how marketing hasn't historically thought of the service fit in is effort to fill the funnel with as many prospective customers as required to end up with some acceptable number out the other end. In addition to demographics, ethnographics and other segmentation modeling, marketing should absolutely be asking the question "can I service this customer?" "is my service delivery model a fit for this customer's expectations"

Another wrinkle is being created not necessarily just by social media, or technology in general, but by the radical and permanent change in buyer behavior driven by buyer empowerment and knowledge. McKinsey has recently released a compelling bit of research on the subject here: http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/The_consumer_decision_journey_2373

I'll be taking a look at that this week over on my blog as relates to closing the chasm between marketing and customer service.