Thursday, December 9, 2010

Some Emotions Just Can't Be Transferred to an Ad

I really, really wanted to let this one go but it has seriously been bothering me for more than 2 days now.

I was driving in my car the other day and this ad comes on the radio. I believe it was an ad for where they had new regulations for credit card fine print and terms and conditions changes.

The radio ad had one man pleading for the credit card holder to give him another chance, much like when a husband is found guilty of something by his wife. Amongst his pleas there were lines such as "I will really change this time, please give me another chance" etc. I wish I had a copy of the ad but this radio ad wanted to leverage off an emotional connection that credit card holders usually DO NOT have for their credit cards.

How can you transfer feelings of a husband/wife relationship to a user/credit card relationship? Plus, there is a negative connotation to the whole ad, since when a husband (I only use husband here because they used a male voice in the ad, it could very well be the wife pleading for forgiveness as well) does something wrong and they say things like this, the person on the receiving end knows that:

  1. You say those things because you know that's what we want to hear
  2. You promise that you will change but you really aren't sure if you can; again, it's something you know we want to hear
  3. We forgive you because we love you, not because you gave us the facts.
The third reason above, is precisely why an ad like this is not going to work; rarely do we experience the same emotions with a credit card. 

Enough of me blasting this ad - I will provide an example of what works well. Have you seen Ally ads on TV? The theme is that fine print in credit cards' terms and conditions are a silly thing to have, and they illustrate it with children wanting to do certain activities and the salesperson saying no, the fine print says you can't. 

Now this is an emotion/feeling we can ALL relate to, because at one point or another, we have all been screwed by credit cards and their fine print. 

What?! I didn't know they changed to charging a 30% annual rate!
What?! I didn't know international usage would cost me 6% of my purchase!
What?! I didn't know that this offer is only valid for new customers that have never had this credit card and live in Shanghai.

You get the idea. We've all been there. Point is, when you are trying to arouse emotions to associate with your brand, make sure that it does transfer, in the right way.

A Customer Experience Story (Part 2)

So I got the new Macbook Air - the totally decked out version. This was half a functional decision and the other half totally irrational (as with all of our purchases).

Following up on my last post, where my supposedly "fixed" macbook air decided to black out on me again after I replaced its hard drive for two hundred dollars plus, I called and left a message where I worked hard to repress my frustration.

I got a call early in the morning, before their store opened at Richmond Centre, from their business manager. I am going to mention her name here because I am going to give her props here for handling my anger so well. She told me that she had received my message, was sorry about my "loss", and understood that I needed to get my computer fixed right away. She booked me in for the first appointment time available at the genius bar and I told her I would be there.

I was down with a cold that morning so I had to groggily pull myself out of bed, get dressed, put on my glasses (which I rarely ever wear in public), and dragged myself over to Richmond Centre. 

I was like a woman on a mission beelining into the store and headed straight for the genius bar at the back. "I am here to see Christine, she booked in me in for an appointment." 

The helper with an iPad called for her via iPad (at least that's what I think happened) and she showed up, we shook hands, and I proceeded with throwing a fit. It went something like me wanting to throw my computer against the wall when it shut down on me again after I was told that it was fixed. OK, that was the only "angry" comment that I made and then having someone immediately attend to my broken computer and saying they understood my pain suddenly made me feel better. Let's face it, as customers, we all just want a little genuine lovin' from these companies.

I told Brody (who was the genius who was going to fix my computer) and Christine that I did need another new computer given that I can't go into meetings with a computer that may die on me any second. We went around and I got to take a look at the new Macbook Air models (11" and 13") and even the new Macbook Pros. Considering that I needed my computer to handle mostly web surfing, word processing and simple photo rendering tasks, the Macbook Air would be more than sufficient. Seriously, with 4GB ram and 280 GB storage I think I am good to go.

Of course they also credited me for the amount that I spent the day before trying to fix my old computer. That made me feel better because I felt that they were fair with me. That's all it takes to satisfy a customer, don't try to rip us off. A lot of you might ask why I decided to buy another Mac, and I will tell you the reasoning is threefold.

  1. Functionality wise I have tried out many different laptop brands, including Fujitsu, Acer, HP, Toshiba and Mac. My Mac never got the blue screen of death and didn't have constant crashes happening. Plus, the system is just so user friendly. Even small things like searching for a file on my computer is 100 times faster. Have you tried searching for a file on a PC? WOW, it really seems like there is somebody inside the computer slowly going through the folders.
  2. They have been SO good with servicing broken stuff on my Macbook Air. Last time the little piece that held my laptop screen and the keyboard together broke off a little bit and they replaced my ENTIRE SCREEN for FREE - I was not under applecare and they helped me simply out of the goodness of their heart (at least this is how it appeared to me). Even when they replaced my hard drive they reduced their labor charge down to $39 from $159. 
  3. Again, totally irrational. This is what customer purchases are like. We buy things that makes us feel good. I know I bought the Macbook Air because it is the thinnest laptop in the world - which really makes me feel quite awesome. My feet will also thank me because I am not lugging around a 10-pound IBM.
I would say that Mac has redeemed itself in this customer experience story. Wouldn't you?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Customer Service Experience Story

It happened this morning when I woke up.

My Macbook Air had mysteriously put itself to sleep, or rather, turned itself off entirely, refusing to start.

I did not freak out because of a data loss, since everything important had already been backed up, but I needed my computer to work on things, and not being able to work on things when I want to drives me insane. I booked an appointment to bring my laptop in to the Apple store to get it checked out.

I show up on time, and a 'genius' diagnoses my laptop and tells me that the hard drive is fried. I ask whether I could fix it and the genius states that it can be done and it will last me another 2 years (looking back at the conversation now I really, really should have recorded it). Since I trusted the brand, the technical expertise of their geniuses, I agreed to replace my hard drive for two hundred dollars.

I was more than overjoyed when they called me later in the day to tell me that it had already been done - I seriously thought this was impressive, considering how all other electronics dealers would take days to fix something. I happily paid for and retrieved my laptop, carrying it back home and tried it out. I left my computer on and idle for half an hour while I had something to eat.

Seating myself back at my work desk after dinner, I fiddled with the keyboard and found that my computer had fallen asleep again. I shut it down and tried to restart it but to my horror, it failed to boot again.

This meant that the 'genius' had made a recommendation, made me spend two hundred dollars, gave me false hope that my computer is going to last me another two years, and very frustrated that I am still dealing with a problem that should have been resolved.

Despite having a great brand, strong customer following and supposedly a technical team that is extremely qualified to handle issues like mine, I am disappointed this time. I hope Apple will show me tomorrow, when I bring my computer back in, that they can treat me right as a customer, because this really hurt the trust I had in their brand. It really did.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A LARGE audience doesn't equate to a captive audience

First off, it's been a long, long time since I've posted and I might even consider myself a bit rusty, so bear with me.

I recently started to use Twitter to promote for a hobby website of mine that I started on the side.  It's totally unrelated to the finance industry so I won't go into detail about it. The point of this post is to discuss the use of Twitter.

I have noticed the majority of people on Twitter have the following things in common:

  1. They rarely generate their own content, they are "retweeting" other people's content (this can be done by a "bot", so the person isn't even manually checking for what they retweet);
  2. They follow hundreds, if not thousands of people in hopes that those people would follow them back;
  3. If those people do not follow them back, they can have their Twitter settings set up so that they automatically "unfollow" those people.
Judging by the above set of prevalent behaviors in the Twitter community, I would believe that close to 90% of your followers aren't even paying attention to your tweets. What are the implications of this to businesses that are hoping to use Twitter to mass distribute their company news, events, etc?

  1. You don't have a captive audience - less than 10% are actually listening;
  2. You have followers because you are also following thousands of people who feel like they should reciprocate by following you back but not necessarily follow your news;
  3. When spending money on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, make sure it makes sense for you; this means you KNOW your target audience is there and that they will also be receptive and responsive to your ads through those channels - or you might get better results by throwing money from the top of a building and courting passerby with your product as they scramble to pick up free money.
  4. This doesn't apply to well-known brands and celebrities because their fans are crazy about them and can be considered a captive audience.
It seems like everyone is crazy about using social media to advertise, but if you audience isn't listening, or not even relevant to your product (as in they won't use it!) then why are you throwing away money?