By Terry Corbell
The Biz Coach
Understanding Customers: Social Media Teaches Another Lesson
Marketing is the understanding of your customer for the cost-effective process of selling the right product or service at the right time and at the right price.
Inexplicably, Verizon joins the list of big companies failing to understand how poor research and judgment would draw fire from their customers and social media.
You might recall the wireless company announced a controversial $2 fee on their customers for making one-time telephone or Web payments. It was to take effect on Jan. 15, 2012. Less than 24 hours after making the announcement, Verizon was forced to rescind the scheme.
Verizon was lacking in discernment, and the fee announcement instantaneously drew the wrath from thousands of jolted customers.
Social media was buzzing. More than 100,000 customers signed a Change.org petition demanding the company change course. A regulatory agency, the Federal Communications Commission, announced it would investigate the issue.
In turn, Verizon was startled into reality. It was a sharp reminder that Verizon misread the situation. To be fair, Verizon isn’t alone.
Just two months ago, Netflix backtracked on its decision to break up a division – morphing its DVD rental service into something called Qwikster. Poor sales caused the CEO to take a cut in his remuneration.
In November, Bank of America incurred the wrath of thousands of customers when it announced a $5 charge for using debit cards. Thousands of customers became credit union members.
What were they thinking? Why aren’t such companies aware of the implications of the Digital Age and the economy?
Apparently, executives need to spend some time in sales with customers. Companies need to think 1930s for business success. Consumer attitudes are changing.
Verizon, Bank of America and Netflx should have enough marketing sophistication to understand the economic elasticity of consumer attitudes and fees. To the businesses, they were only charging a little extra money. To their customers, it was a strong perception of greed and unfairness.
Add social media to the mix and the companies face a firestorm. Not only is it a waste of corporate time and money, such naiveté leads to a dilution of their brands and weakening of sales.
The Internet launched an era of consumer awareness. That was both good news and bad news for business. It gave Web users unprecedented power – power for them to research brands and prices – and power to share critical information with countless other users.
And given this economy, Internet users and all consumers are more concerned than ever about value. So it’s important for companies to use best practices to optimize their brands and manage their Web reputations.
It’s also a good time to review PR-crisis management tips, research their customers and make certain that they’re discerning correctly.
Again, the lesson: Marketing is the understanding of your customer for the cost-effective process of selling the right product or service at the right time and at the right price.
From the Coach’s Corner, before you’re tempted to make a possible catastrophic decision about fees or prices, consider eight simple strategies to give you pricing power.
“The only thing that’s worse than being blind, is having sight but no vision.”
Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.