Rethinking the value of the customer

I’m a geek, I build PCs. I also took photos along the way and posted a project log to track my progress to my favorite computer website. I got a few views and not too many comments.

But I wonder if when I had cause to return the motherboard to OverclockersUK whether the fact that I included a link to the log as well as describing the fault and what I had tried to remedy it affected the service I received?

All I can say was that the service was exemplary.

I was so impressed I said thank you. I did so in an email, and via Twitter and on Facebook. I even name checked the gentlemen that had been so helpful.I’m now using it as a case study for my blog.

So what? I said thank you – surely that’s not a big deal?

Well, if you read one of the latest blogs in Harvard Business Review, I just increased the value of myself far beyond what I spent.

As a customer I spent a few hundred pounds on parts, as a fan of the brand, well I gave them free testimonials, free marketing and became what some would call a ‘brand evangelist’.

But so what? why did my value to them increase? well, as a customer my first hand account about great service is worth a lot more than any amount of marketing professing the same thing.

To explain this I need to borrow from one of my favorite books about PR, The Business of Influence by Philip Sheldrake.

It turns out that in the fight to gain reputation and influence it is what stakeholders say about you that matters most, rather than what you tell them.

If you accept this premise, then it actually turns the entire ‘push’ marketing model on its head.  Influence professionals like myself need to ensure that we listen to our customers, what they are saying to each other and to us and then engage with them.

That changes the paradigm of marketing communications to one where companies need to delight customers and simply ensure that influence flow #2 can be heard.

Quite a contrast to the old paradigm of just throwing advertisements and content at customers and hoping that the messages stick!

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