Is all about ROI or relationships?

As marketers, one of the key questions we get asked from stakeholders, is what is the Return on Investment. We have all heard that PR should be x times the amount invested, or experential should be under $x a sample, and so on. But really is ROI the only thing and main thing we should be looking at? 5 years ago, I would have agreed, but now with social media being at the heart of what we do, consumers seeking the opinions of others more and more, we need to relook at how and what we measure.

It all stems from customer experience. It’s the difference between what people expect and the actual level of customer service that will dictate whether or not people will talk about your brand. If you fail to meet their expectations no doubt they will talk about you, and the word of mouth generated will be negative. If you deliver what they expect, the feelings are neutral and customers won’t think twice about mentioning your brand. However, if you exceed their expectations, the wheels starts turning, and what happens is priceless. The consumers talk about you to their friends, they post their experience on Facebook, Twitter, and that’s when you start to see repeat business and referrals.

So how to you exceed customer experience? It’s not just providing them with customer service, it’s doing something beyond the service, beyond what they expect from you, doing something that is almost unusual, that makes a difference to their lives.

At this stage you are probably asking, but what can I do? How do I provide this customer experience. Well here are some scenarios to get you thinking:

A beauty student is looking at buying new equipment, to start working from home whilst she completes her studies. The assistant provides her with information and helps her makes her choices according to her needs. Customer is happy, service has been delivered. The assistant then discusses with her free training sessions that are offered by relevant companies to enhance her skills. The assistant follows up with an email of the training sessions and well as her contact details as a source for any help in starting up. Not only did the customer get her products, but also received valuable tips on how to learn more, and someone that she can rely on for a second opinion. This is where the relationship starts… and continues with the customer. In addition, she also refers all her fellow classmates.

A customer posts on a Facebook of a brand, about receiving her brand new shoes but in the wrong colour. Many would panic and the delete the message, etc. Instead the company posts back immediately, apologising for the error, but also commenting that the right shows have now been shipped and instead the box a surprise is waiting for her. The surprise ends up being the matching hand-bag. Not only has everyone seen that the company responds immediately to complaints, but the customer’s level of service were exceeded. Now she goes back onto Facebook, and tells the Fan page and all her friends about her surprise. This leads to loyalty, and also new business.

Should we measure the ROI of the above? No, as it doesn’t matter, it isn’t important, the relationship matters. Once the relationship is there, the ROI comes.

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