Your Customer as Brand Advocate

Businesses always promote how much they care about customer service when in reality, many consistently fail to deliver an exceptional level of service that creates repeat customers.

Earlier today, I visited Yelp.com to review what customers were saying about a certain organization I had planned to do business with. To my surprise, out of 20 posted reviews in the last 2 years, 15 of them were (poor) 1 star ratings. That is unacceptable.

In today’s multi-channel, multi-media business environment, the customer’s voice now reigns supreme more than ever before. With easy access to social media, customers can easily vocalize and promote a positive or negative experience far and wide.

According to Nielsen’s 2013 “Global Survey of Trust in Advertising” (which surveyed more than 29,000 Internet users in 58 countries about 19 forms of paid, earned and owned media), 84% of consumers worldwide say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from their trusted friends and families — an increase of 6% over the past six years.

The survey also revealed some interesting info on content marketing including:

“Owned advertising, in the form of content and messaging on brand websites, was the second most-trusted advertising source in 2013, with 69 percent of global respondents indicating they trust this platform, up 9 percentage points and from a fourth-place ranking in 2007.”

Of course, your marketing and advertising strategy will continue to play an important role in attracting customers. Whether that customer returns in the future depends mostly on their initial experience. Easy to say but a challenge to implement unless your business’ mission is aligned with the objective of providing the best experience for both your internal and external customers.

The ultimate goal is a satisfied client that will act as an advocate for your company and brand. Advocates are so satisfied and impressed that they will post freely on social media, promoting your service and spreading brand awareness without any expectation.

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A Different Perspective on Goal-Setting

I just read an article by “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams in the Wall Street Journal which I found quite insightful.  In the article titled “Scott Adams’ Secret of Success: Failure”  Mr Adams discusses the lessons and skills he has learned from his failures over the years (and there have been many). He further makes a good case on why setting goals and following your passion is asking for trouble.

It took a few minutes to wrap my mind around the concept but after re-reading the article, it started to make sense. He writes:

Throughout my career I’ve had my antennae up, looking for examples of people who use systems as opposed to goals. In most cases, as far as I can tell, the people who use systems do better. The systems-driven people have found a way to look at the familiar in new and more useful ways.

To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That’s literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary.

If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize that you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or to set new goals and re-enter the cycle of permanent pre-success failure.

The idea of goal setting has been so ingrained in our collective psyche by a variety of books, lectures and advice over the years that many have accepted the paradigm that goal setting is the end all be all of achievement without question. The article invites the reader to consider different methods of achievement that may work just as well. One method that the author points out succintly is the use of a “system” instead of a “goal”.

… being systems-oriented, I felt myself growing more capable every day, no matter the fate of the project that I happened to be working on. And every day during those years I woke up with the same thought, literally, as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and slapped the alarm clock off.

Today’s the day.

If you drill down on any success story, you always discover that luck was a huge part of it. You can’t control luck, but you can move from a game with bad odds to one with better odds. You can make it easier for luck to find you. The most useful thing you can do is stay in the game. If your current get-rich project fails, take what you learned and try something else. Keep repeating until something lucky happens. The universe has plenty of luck to go around; you just need to keep your hand raised until it’s your turn. It helps to see failure as a road and not a wall.

In my experience, I’ve seen plenty of failure along the way, but I’m still of the opinion that specific and measurable goals are still valuable as they serve as a guidepost to achievement. Systems however can also be put in place as an additional method on the road to achieving our objectives.  The article’s explanation of success breeding passion, and luck meeting opportunity, are perhaps the two most distinct and valuable take-aways for me. Tomorrow will always bring uncertainty and some goals will never be achieved due to the randomness of life. Our experiences should inform our choices and be part of a system to build upon; adding discipline and passion to the process can also serve as fuel to keep us going as the going gets tough.

As Winston Churchill once reminded us:  “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”