Wednesday, December 01, 2010


The number of advertising and marketing messages we are exposed to daily have continued to grow year after year after year.

Fortunately, our brains screen out most of what we see or hear, at least on a conscious level, or we would go nuts. We still are getting plenty of messages that we are not aware of subconciously.

So we look for ways to slow down the messages.

For me, this time of year, I avoid the mall and most major shopping areas due to the bombardment of marketing messages, ranging from the non-stop Christmas music, to the advertising gimmicks, etc.

And I work in the advertising world!

Marketing Profs featured an article on how this applies to customer service:

Why Your Customers Might Want You to Just Shut Up

Quick quiz: Have you ever walked into an airport, noticed that there is nobody in line at the check-in counter and still made a bee-line for the self-service kiosk? Better yet, have you ever waited in line for an ATM machine even though there was no one in line for the teller?

"If you answered 'yes' to either of these questions, you're not alone," say Matt Dixon and Lara Ponomareff in a post at the Harvard Business Review blog. Their recent research has revealed a fascinating new consumer reality: "Most customers these days demonstrate a huge—and increasing—appetite for self-service," they report.

Some of their findings:

  • Today's customers value electronic self-service just as much as using the phone to get help from a live person.
  • By and large, that holds true regardless of age, demographic, issue type or urgency.
  • A staggering 57% of inbound calls to companies come from customers who first attempted to resolve their issue on the company's website.

What makes self-service so appealing? The lousy level of live service being offered is one factor (if you agree with the fascinating reader comments accompanying the blog post).

But on a psychological level, "it might have more to do with the unique element of control that self service affords," these authors suggest. "Skeptics might argue that customers never wanted the kind of relationship that companies have always hoped for, and that self service now allows customers the 'out' they've been looking for all along." Ouch!

The message for marketers? Better focus on polishing your self-service technologies—just in case your customers prefer DIY.

The Po!nt: Know when to zip it. "Running your company as if customers want to talk to you … [is] potentially undermining your efforts to build longer-term loyalty," Dixon and Ponomareff conclude.

Source: Harvard Business Review.

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