Consumers have become more skeptical in the last several years. And who can blame them?
They’ve felt bamboozled by the management of huge corporations. They’ve become more aware of possible threats to their employment, their financial security, their health, their environment, their children, and their country. Consumer anxiety is high. Consumer confidence is low.
While corporate ethics weren’t necessarily even a component of the branding picture just a few short years ago, they now figure heavily. Merely knowing if someone was "satisfied" with what they bought from you is no longer sufficient.
In these times, your customers are looking at things through more jaundiced eyes. Claims and promises are no longer accepted at face value. It’s not enough to say, "Trust us," especially if you’re on the defensive when you say it. Trust must be earned through experience.
Your customer has become a cynic. Not only do they not want to be lied to, they doesn’t want to be misled. They don’t want to hear even a "little" lie. Anytime they feel they are being treated as less than a valued customer (like been on hold forever), their trust in your company erodes.
While trust is an emotion, people want to base their trust on facts. They want rational evidence they can trust your company.
You can offer special promotions, but these only buy you temporary volume–and no reason to trust you. You can offer a host of "new and unique" features or conveniences, but these are attributes that can probably be copied by your competitors, especially if they’ve got deeper pockets. And, when your attributes are copied, your customers won’t trust your claims of being unique.
Instead, companies that concentrate on both the purchasing experience and the after-the-sale experience have developed true relationships with their customers. They’re holding on to their client base, getting them to spend more, and engendering loyalty. It’s no longer enough to have a satisfied customer; you need a delighted customer.
If you can’t find a way to delight all your customers, figure a way to delight the heavy-hitters–your best customers. Because if you end up alienating some of the people who do business with you, the last people you want to confuse or anger are those capable of adding the most to your bottom line.
How can you provide a "delightful experience," especially if you’re not in the amusement business? Sit back and think. With which firms do you really enjoy doing business? Which companies have you abandoned? What companies do you deal with only because you have no other choices? Now list the reasons.
Then, figure out which of those attributes (the positive ones, of course) you can impart to your company. Or, which of these attributes does your company already have–but you’re not publicizing? (It doesn’t matter if an attribute you like best is about an airline and your company manufactures semiconductors; if, for instance, that attribute is "reliability," it can translate from one industry to another.)
If you work with an advertising agency they can help, but if you are in charge of marketing you should really flesh out these attributes yourself.