This just in – your customers matter. Sounds like a no-brainer. Sounds like a topic not really worthy of discussion. Everyone knows it. What more needs to be said? As simple as this concept sounds, it seems that some businesses aren’t heeding the advice. Consumers are angry over increased fees, changes in services, changes in the business model, changes with products… you name it. When consumers feel slighted, they immediately take to the Internet to voice their opinions. Unless businesses address these concerns, they can quickly become mired in a very sticky PR situation.
All one needs to do to see the effect of this consumer backlash is to look at Netflix, who quickly ditched their plans to spin off their DVD service into a separate company called Qwikster. Or consider the uproar that Bank of America caused when they decided to start charging customers a monthly fee for using their debit cards. According to this article from USA Today, they too have backed down in the face of public opinion and have decided not to charge a debit card fee. Conversely, consider how Domino’s Pizza responded to customer feedback in late 2009.
What does all this mean for marketers, advertisers, and PR professionals who work to build up brands?
- Decisions must be weighed carefully. Don’t rush into any decisions regarding marketing/advertising strategies unless you have done your homework and thoroughly understand your ideal consumer; his/her opinions, buying habits, likes/dislikes, etc.
- Don’t underestimate your consumer. With social media at their disposal, customers have a very loud voice and can stir up support for their cause quickly at the grassroots level.
- Difficulty awaits those who find themselves trying to rebuild trust among their consumer base. There are two items to note from the USA Today article referenced earlier. One is a quote from famed PR guru Howard Rubenstein, who said, “Every company is now sitting on electronic quicksand. It may look like solid ground, but one wrong move and you’re up to your chin.” The second is a statistic released from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. The study states that “some $58 billion in transactions may be at risk from Americans who had a problem with a product or service purchased in the last year.”
Businesses can’t afford to aim wildly with their marketing, advertising, or PR decisions and just throw something at the wall to see what sticks. A company’s reputation (and its bottom line) is at stake. Well-crafted, well-executed, and well-targeted messages will always work best. Be communicative. Be consistent with who you are as a company. And remember who matters the most.
- Debit Cards: Chase, Wells Fargo Cancel Plans to Impose Monthly Debit Fees (inquisitr.com)
- Tweet Revenge: Consumers Wage Cyber War on Companies (postamericana.wordpress.com)
- Customers Revolt, and Win? Banks Back Off New Fees (moneyland.time.com)