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Posts tagged with ‘Customer Centricity’

Top 5 Warnings to Customer Experience Marketers

Never try to sell a meteor

  1. Stop designing products. Customers do not want to experience products and they care very little about product’s features and functions. Customers do not buy products, they hire products to do a “job”. Ultimately, you need to learn what is the “job” your customers would hire your products to deliver, i.e. what is a desired outcome. That learning is difficult as the customers can rarely articulate their desired outcomes in a way that is useful for writing standard market requirements document. That is why lesser marketers like to declare themselves visionaries, quote Steve Jobs out of context, and rely on advertising to deliver mediocre products.

“Making it easier and cheaper for customers to do things that they are not trying to do rarely leads to success. The job, not the customer, is the fundamental unit of analysis for a marketer who hopes to develop products that customers will buy”

  1. While designing for customer experience, it helps to think in terms of delivering the customer’s desired outcome. Customers yearn for simplicity on every step of their journey, from clarity of realization that your product is the best path to the outcome they desire, to simple and trustworthy ways of sharing their experiences with others.
  2. “Clever” messages are entertaining. Honest communications, in the language that resonates with your potential customers’ experiences, are selling your products and services. Do not try to engage with people you cannot help, because that reveals a lack of competence or authenticity. Both compromise your reputation and undermine trust.

 

 “Without trust, a business cannot grow. Without reputation a business cannot be trusted.”

 

Every few months I get an invitation to participate in Customer Experience survey from one of the best known consultancy in the field. Every time I am disqualified because my firm cannot be their customer. Every time the new invitation is received I lose a bit of trust that this provider can really help his customers, if they can’t help themselves to do it right.

 

  1. Technology can be a very powerful ally in supporting your customer experience marketing strategy. It cannot replace strategy. Regardless of what you hear from your technology vendors. Technology provides efficiency and scale, but most of us are challenged by effectiveness.

 

“The difference between efficient and effective is that efficiency refers to how well you do something, whereas effectiveness refers to how useful it is.”

 

If we don’t have the solution to the challenges faced by our best probable customers, technology will help us to damage our trustworthiness at a very low cost per unit.

 

  1. Don’t try to control the experience of your customers. Not only is it impossible to do, as customer experience is their perception of doing business with you and cannot be controlled, it is damaging to your reputation to try. The less friction customers experience on their path to realize the outcome they desire, the better is their perception of doing business with the company. From that perspective, removal of any unnecessary steps, keystrokes, questions, interactions, etc. from the customer’s path provides the best return on customer experience management investment.

The road to hellish Customer Experience is paved with careless implementations of technology

Health, CX and TechnologyI am blessed with very good health and have no medical conditions to the best of my knowledge, but my wife insisted that it is time for a complete medical exam. She even supplied me with a link to setup my appointment online. Within 3 seconds after I opened a web form to see the availability of the doctor I wanted to visit, a pop-out survey blocked my view asking me to rate my experience using this scheduling service. Such pestering became so common that I don’t get irritated anymore when facing it. At least you can just refuse to “play” and continue most of the time. I just don’t understand why a company wants to “invest” in annoying their customers – after all it is not difficult to figure out this user of their “service” could not possibly rate his experience since he did not have one yet.

After selecting an available date and entering requested data into the two following forms, the service prompted me to click on a “Book the Appointment” button that followed by a message with apologies for not being able to book it and the phone number to call for help. It turns out the number was for technical support of the booking system. The support was neither technical nor supportive. They were not interested nor capable to help me book the appointment. The best they could do was to give the doctor’s office number to call.

It turned out the number was not for the doctor’s office, but for the “health program provider” charged with a duty to book appointments for a group of doctors. The person on the other end asked me for the same information I entered on the their web site, but before we concluded the process our call was interrupted. Imagine my “delight” when I heard an automated message cheerfully asking me to rate my experience. I had to hang up and call again to connect with another person who wanted me to start this process from the beginning. At this point I felt that this experience is destined to raise my blood pressure and the best thing to do for my health is to avoid this medical establishment at any cost.

This type of moronic implementations of technology is not limited to medical or government institutions. After all they have designed any accountability for their performance out off their “business” model a long time ago. I am not sure why they even waste money on the charade of “patient experience” or “citizen experience”.

Much more intriguing is how wide spread such examples of technology implementations are among honest business, large and small. Even the companies that advertise themselves as providers of customer engagement technologies for others are not immune to this disease of carelessness.

Change does not start with technology. It starts with realization that you have to change. In the case of the experience you deliver to your customers, you have to realize that the current level is not sustainable. You don’t have to care about your customers-you have to care about your ability to keep them. That realization leads to:
• a sincere attempt to walk a mile in the customer’s shoes and to look at your company through their eyes
• re-design of existing engagement processes from the outside-in perspective
• Acquire a technology to implement these processes to scale them for consistent delivery across the company

The careless implementation of customer engagement technologies amplifies the clear signal that the company does not really care about its customers and uses the customer experience buzzwords to cut their operating costs. Just like they did when they sold CRM “solutions”. It did work then. Now it may not work anymore because today a business is not about cost reduction. Today your customers can easily determine which vendors walk the customer experience walk, leaving those who just talk it, behind.

The way you engage your customers speaks so loud, they can’t hear your marketing messages.

Why Privacy Is A Part of Customer Experience

Easy TargetNot a month goes by without a revelation of a mass data breach at a major commercial or government institution. Since the Target fiasco the well being of customers who shop at Michaels Stores, Sally Beauty Supply, Neiman Marcus, AOL, eBay and P.F. Chung was compromised. The credit scores and reputation of 47% of US adults are compromised by white color criminals. Experts estimate the annual cost to US economy to reach $100B.  Google’s breach of their email users information is not included here because the users are not Google’s customers, the advertisers are and their experience was not degraded by the breach.

 

As the list of security breaches grows longer a common pattern of apologies and very rare firings is emerging. It appears that institutions, to which we entrust our vital information, treat these systematic failures as no more than Public Relations set backs. After empty apologies and stupid advice to change your password, there are no reports of real investment into fundamental change in securing our data.

 

To be fair, the commercial institutions affected usually do mitigate customer’s monetary losses directly attributed to their breach of security. However, they are not held responsible for any negative impact on these customer’s credit history or other non monetary losses cascading from the careless treatment of customer’s data.

 

I use the word “careless” intentionally, because these security breaches are not the result of irresistible technological prowess of international mad geniuses. They are a direct result of an economic equation – it is cheaper for an institution to reimburse customers than to implement a bulletproof data protection. Once again business leaders and government bureaucrats put short term financial results and budgetary priorities ahead of the long term interests of their key stakeholders – customers, investors and taxpayers.

Smartphone fraud

As consumers we should have the opportunity to assess the reputation and history of a business  guarding their customer’s data, before we decide to do business with the company.  Yet, when every government clerk or doctor’s office assistant demands my Social Security data, there is nothing I can do to protect myself. Meanwhile 1.84M people affected by medical identity theft in 2012.

 

Data security is not my field, customer centricity is. The reason I am writing about this subject is because I see an epidemic of customer data breaches and other forms of cyber fraud as a sign of fundamental disregard for customer safety. In my opinion these organizations have to be held accountable to a higher standard as their leadership breaches their fiduciary obligations.

 

An onslaught of technological innovation is marching on and I like the new, shiny toys as much if not more than most. However, I am aware more than most that designers, manufacturers and retailers who sell us these toys do not view our security as their responsibility. They should, before we stop buying.

Stop buying

The Gospel of Customer Centricity

Customer centricThe price of a product, the brand value and the other pillars of marketing are no longer the most important factors in a consumer’s selection process. At a certain level of affluence the “absolute value” of experience, a company is likely to deliver, becomes the pivotal point in making the selection. Global trends point to a dramatic growth of consumers who are reaching, or about to reach, that level. Therefore, customer-centric companies are likely to outperform their competitors, who’s leaders cannot see beyond the next quarter’s financial results.

Customer centricity starts with realization that your company cannot deliver a superior customer experience to everybody who wants to buy your product or service.

 

Customer centricity is about:

 

  • knowing who your best customers are – beyond demographics and persona definitions.

Regardless of the type of business – B2B, B2C or any other combination of letters, it is people who decide whether they had a good experience as your customers or they should try someone else. These people share their opinions with others, like they always have. However, now these opinions have as much, or more, impact on shoppers as advertising.

  • knowing WHY your best customers buy what you are selling.

According to Peter Drucker –

“The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him”.

It is critical to understand what “job” they “hire” your products to do. Go beyond sketchy marketing requirements, and deliver the ultimate simplicity of experience to perform that “job”.

  • exclusivity – it may not be politically correct or culturally easy to accept, but a company cannot deliver a top quality experience to any customer – only to those it is best focused on to serve profitably.

That means it is better for such a company’s culture, it’s employees, it’s target customers, and the consumers at large to clearly communicate what type of customers it will not serve, because it cannot deliver the quality of experience they deserve. The best example I know is USAA that leads every chart as the top customer experience provider, but will not take your business if you are not a member of the military family.

Enterprises deliver operational efficiencies through departmental silos that can easily lead to fragmentation of customer experience.  Business intelligence data warehouses can integrate internal data flows to produce a holistic view of the enterprise performance, in terms of growth and efficiencies. However, without connecting it all to customer’s perceptions of their experiences, the enterprise’s sustainable effectiveness cannot be measured.

 

Customer centricity is not a project or corporate initiative. It may or may not involve investment in technology and if it fails, it is an ultimate failure of the company’s leadership and not IT, Customer Service or any other of its departments. Customer centricity is a cultural transformation that leads to embracing a customer into the inner circle of the company’s stakeholders. Without customers, employees and shareholders – there is no company.

 

3 Questions for the Author of “Hooked on Customers”

2014-07-05_130104Last week I had the opportunity to ask Bob Thompson, the author of the book “Hooked on Customers”, a few questions. Bob  is an international authority on customer-centric business management who has researched and shaped leading industry trends since 1998. He is founder and CEO of CustomerThink Corporation, an independent research and publishing firm, and founder and editor-in-chief of CustomerThink.com, the world’s largest online community dedicated to helping business leaders develop and implement customer-centric business strategies. His book reveals the five habits of leading customer-centric firms.

CX-IQ.COMBob, many industry observers, as well as practitioners, agree that a culture and politics of organizational silos negatively impact experience of the customers. Have you encounter in your research any specific practices of customer-centricity leaders,  that allow them to overcome this challenge? Can you share it/them with our readers?

Bob Thompson – People often blame organizational silos for customer experience dysfunction, and for good reason. But the answer is not to “bust” silos, because they also serve a purpose: specialization. However, you can’t expect silo managers to cooperate on their own without encouragement from their boss. Having shared metrics and rewards can help. For example, if one team is responsible for the web experience and another the call center experience, management can encourage cooperation by setting up metrics and rewards that focus (and reward) both groups on the overall customer experience. Sprint used this technique, and also rallied around an internal metric that drove the business case: cost.

CX-IQ.COM – In your book’s “Habit 1 – Listen” chapter, you shared lessons for managing VoC from perspective of different companies. Some of these lessons mention benchmarking of the company metrics against their industry averages obtained from 3rd party providers. There is a debate in CXM community about methodological integrity, and therefore a value, of comparing a company’s numbers with the ones produced externally. How critical, in your opinion, is a benchmarking practice for an improvement of customer experience?

Bob Thompson – I agree that it’s difficult to benchmark, but it’s important to understand how one company compares to another in the customer’s mind. Customers make decisions based on what is different between options in their consideration set, not the absolute raw scores. I would recommend benchmarks produced by an outside firm to ensure it’s an apples to apples comparison.

CX-IQ.COM – Bob, you quote Jeanne Bliss “human duct tape” role definition of CCO. I am a big fan of duct tape – for a quick repair that needs to be done right later. As you point out through your book – customer-centricity is not a destination, it is a journey. How long can a “ship” sail, patched together with a duct tape? Isn’t a CCO only needed where CEO and CMO have failed?

Bob Thompson – Any change requires specialized help, and customer-centric change is no different. An effective CCO can help bridge the gaps in the short term while implementing systemic reforms that, eventually, will mean the CCO is no longer needed.

CX-IQ.COMBob, thank you very much for the great book and for sharing with us the lessons you have learned in your research.

For more information you can visit HookedOnCustomers.com.

Beyond Buzzwords – 4 Keys to Effective Action

I don't always use buzzwordsA few weeks ago I attempted to provide a clear distinction between customer experience and customer support in this blog post. Since then, the post was re-published on a number of customer experience and service websites, was shared by many readers and drew some very interesting comments. The subject clearly hit a nerve.

While obviously not everyone agrees with the definitions proposed in the article, the discussion itself serves a purpose in solidifying the important concepts in our consciousness.Clear and practical definitions of terms have tremendous implications on the formulation of business strategies, and help us to communicate constructively. One of the reasons it is so difficult to gather support and to obtain financing for customer experience related initiatives is the perception of “squishiness” which is a by-product of fuzzy subject definitions.

I would like to propose a draft for a short dictionary of terms related to customer experience subject matter. The word draft is used purposely to indicate that you are welcome to offer any constructive suggestions for improvement. These definitions are borrowed or re-constructed for the sole purpose of achieving further clarity:

  1. Customer-centricity –  a value based belief system or philosophy.

Like many other “religions” customer-centricity is (supposedly) easy to understand, but difficult to practice – according to Micah Solomon. In my own experience in the context of business, the things that are easily understood and sincerely accepted for their value, are not very complicated to practice.

According to Bob Thompson in his book  Hooked on Customers – it is “a management approach to executing business strategy of delivering the total customer value that drives genuinely loyal customer attitudes and behaviors in a target market”. Bob also states that customer-centricity is not a destination, but a journey.

Of course there are many more definitions, like this one “placing the customer at the center of a company’s marketing effort, focusing on customers rather than sales” that sounds good, but is not particularly actionable or accurate, in my opinion.

The best distinction between customer-centricity and product-centricity was offered by Don Peppers in this article.

My own understanding of this term also requires the clear choice of including the company’s customers into the circle of the company’s stakeholders AND excluding share traders from that circle. There is a difference between investors and speculators. This choice re-defines the focus of management decisions from importance of quarterly earning per share results to a long-term sustainability of the business.

  1. Customer Experience – a perception your customers share about the totality of their experiences of doing business with your company. A more commonly used definition is

 “Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy.”

While its completeness and inclusiveness are open for a debate, I do not see any critical omissions or contradictions which would negatively impact any specific business initiative. The real debate is whether customer experience can be managed or measured.

  1. Customer Service/Support – for the full context it is best to go to the original post.

Many agree with Chris Zane that

“The Customer Support starts when Customer Experience Fails!”

The most damaging thing about the confusion of Customer Service with Customer Experience is that it makes it all too easy for some to change their title and a shingle on the door,  and pretend that nobody noticed – well, customers will.

  1. In e-commerce and other internet businesses, Customer Experience is often confused with User Experience.

(UX) involves a person’s behaviors, attitudes, and emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of system aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency.

The UX surely is another element, attribute or subset of Customer Experience, but the confusion makes it easy to take your eyes of the ball when it comes to fulfillment, support, and other processes that impact the experience of your customers doing business with your company. Consider that some of your  customers may love their User Experience, but hate their Customer Experience. The opposite is not likely.

This is not an exhaustive list, but if these distinctions are not understood a measurable change in your customers’ experience is not likely to materialize.

Customer Engagement is a Double Edge “Sword”

Inside the mind of the consumer-funnyEvery week I get at least two invitations for webinars exploring various customer engagement technologies.  Apparently brands are really interested to engage consumers. At least technology vendors think so, and provide them with powerful tools to do just that. The problem is – nobody seems to know whether the consumers want to be engaged with the brands. Neither the technology vendors nor the brands ever bothered to ask the consumers this question. They just charge ahead and expose consumers to practices that often create negative customer experiences.

A recent online purchase from a well known retailer triggered an immediate avalanche of emails begging me to rate their performance well before the item I purchased was delivered. It was mildly irritating at first. It became outright annoying when the merchandise was not delivered on the promised date. When it finally arrived, I had a chance to experience it sufficiently and respond to the rating request. While the rest of my customer journey was quite smooth, the untimely attempts to “engage”  me, resulted in less than a favorable rating.

While shopping for a kitchen appliance in a well established brick and mortar store, my wife and I met a major brand’s ambassador who gave us very informative product demonstration. Upon completion, she asked for our emails to “continue the engagement”. Unfortunately, the brand did not supply her with any meaningful information about why and how this engagement will be conducted. We chose not to provide our email to the brand. I asked the ambassador about her rate of success in getting email addresses, and her answer was 0%.

I am not suggesting that consumers want no engagement with brands, or that a use of technology for engagement is a bad idea. I do suggest that marketers should ponder on the following questions before they attempt to deploy any technology for customer engagement:

  • What is a value of engaging with your brand from a customer’s perspective?
  • Can your brand benefit from attempts to emotionally engage with consumers? Presumably, brands want to engage with customers to foster loyalty, and consequently grow their sales. Consider that customers may buy your products because of their reputation and not because of brand loyalty.
  • If upon considering the above, you decide to deploy a technology, please think of the details – what type of information, when, how, and how frequently you want to attempt engagement. Think about these from the perspective of a recipient, not the perspective of your brand. Small and easily avoidable errors in deployment can completely de-rail customer engagement initiative – even if the value conditions (first two points) are met. For example, the online retailer described above, could easily trigger their request for  a performance review with the shipping company’s delivery notification. That would avoid alienating this customer with a premature request. Instead they multiplied negativity with repeating the error with an unreasonable frequency.

The most important thing to remember before you start planning a customer engagement campaign: we no longer sell products, services or expertise – we sell experiences.

Can’t Buy Me Love or Superior Customer Experience

Oneness of CXSuperior Customer Experience cannot be delivered without the well orchestrated cooperation of all departments of a company. Yet, this cooperation is very difficult to achieve. The primary reason for the existence of organizational silos is operational efficiency that allows companies to scale their growth. The opposite side of the coin is a lack of unified vision and, as a consequence, the inability to work toward a common goal. This problem has caused many calls for “breaking down the silos“, but I would like to discuss a more constructive approach. Revolutions rarely produce positive ROI for anybody, but their instigators.

There are two approaches commonly discussed to a solution of this problem – heroic leadership act of salvation or/and buying more technology. Neither approach is likely to yield a significant change, in my opinion.

Buying an exercise machine does not improve your health – change of your lifestyle will. Buying marketing automation or big data technology does not improve your company’s prospects for long term profitability growth – delivery of superior customer experience will. Change, before you have to.

Modern organizations are managed by metrics and the dreaded silos are so efficient because they are focused on measurement of isolated sets of results. To continue with the health analogy – measuring blood pressure will not prevent a heart attack unless, the patient is prepared to balance his diet and physical exercise. Similarly, measuring customer satisfaction will not prevent erosion of the company market share, unless the company is prepared to balance it’s operational KPIs and holistic customer experience metric.

The impact of each department within an enterprise on overall customer experience is often neglected and poorly understood. While each one has established metrics to measure its performance, only Customer Service/Support departments are obsessed with measuring customer satisfaction. However, even Customer Service rarely gets it right:

  1. Their obsession is not about holistic customer experience, but about customer satisfaction with customer service.
  2. Their operational KPIs are often cost efficiency focused, and in direct conflict with customer experience goals.

That makes Customer Support department metrics largely irrelevant to the other departments of the company.

A Customer Experience metric is a single measure of how customers perceived their overall experience with the company. However, there are multiple reasons why that perception has formed in their minds. Discovery and measurement of these underlying attributes of the customer experience offers an opportunity to link these attributes to those departments which impact the attribute scores. Below is a crude illustration of the concept.

Link CX with departments

Samples of verbatim used by the customers should be examined to make the linkage more relevant and accurate. Additional sources of internal relevant information such as product returns and customer support ticket volume/complexity would be critical for triangulation on the actual impact of the attribute on the overall customer experience.

This approach is not limited to B2C companies. Just ask your business clients to describe their experience doing business with your company. Let them do it in their own words and resist the temptation of introducing surveys or other company bias inducing formats. The analysis of their unstructured feedback could produce similar charts. The key is to record multiple experiences of your customer’s employees from different departments. Their experiences could be quite different about different attributes of your relationship.

Breaking the silos is an undesirable and unattainable goal. Alternatively, re-examination of operational KPIs of every department for their impact on delivery of superior customer experience will bring the change we seek.

CRM, Omnichannel and the Quest for Customer Intimacy

Once upon a time, before consumer markets became dominated by large corporations and big box stores, customer centricity was a relatively common practice. Small manufacturers and shop keepers could not do it any other way to attract and retain the relatively small number of customers who were financially capable to support their businesses. The real, personal relationship often existed between people who worked for the companies and people who consumed the products and services these companies provided.

As population and affluence grew exponentially, companies followed by scaling their growth to satisfy the needs of their markets. They largely succeeded in building efficient organizations to manage their growth, but at the expense of the “personal” relationships they once had with their customers. During this process of scaling “George” and “Gladys” were replaced by customer persona, segments, demographics, etc. 

I am not waxing nostalgically over the “good, old days” and have full appreciation of the progress that made our lives a lot better in many ways. However, as a customer I do miss the experiences associated with a personal relationship.

Once or twice a week I frequent a funky coffee shop (French Hotel), in the heart of Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. The other day I was standing in line to order my cappuccino, ready to give a barista my order. Before I had a chance to open my mouth, the barista gave me a cup made up exactly they way I usually order: with a smile and “hello”, and “how are you doing” to follow.  This kind of experience you can only get in a place where the same 2-3 people work all the time and a transaction is very simple. Can it be re-created in a place like Starbucks? Best Buy? Comcast?

The technologies capable to create such a transformation have been available for over two decades. The enterprise culture, designed for unlimited scaling, did not find the motivation to leverage technology for re-focusing itself on its customers. It has used these technologies to reduce the costs of doing business instead. Organizational silos bring efficiencies to operations, but they also create a broken view of the customer, as each silo has it’s own perspective on how a customer looks: “innovator” or “slow payer” or “support hog”. To make it worse each department thinks that their perspective is the complete and accurate picture.

CRM has promised to create a complete, holistic view of the customer, but failed to break organizational silos and to deliver better customer experience. Now, different technologies make similar promises again. Should we take these promises seriously this time? Let’s look at mega trends to help answer this question.

  • The trend in global population growth is not slowing down. Therefore we cannot expect a stall in the market size growth to moderate the enterprises’ appetite for scaling.

World population growth

  • The affluence of consumers, appears to have moderated in the developed countries, yet continues explosive growth in the high population developing economies of the world. Given the global reach of modern enterprise, the higher demands for better customer experience from a less important customer base, is not likely to force corporate management to review their fundamental propensity for use of technology as a primary cost cutting tool.

Global trends in consumer Affluence

  • During the last decade we witnessed the shift in balance of influence on consumer behavior from brands (enterprise) to their customers. That shift was powered by the proliferation of social media technologies and its adoption by millions of consumers in the developed markets. There is a strong evidence that this mega trend is growing in the developing markets as well.

Affluence and absolute value

The social consumers influence in China is over 50 points below that of the US and Britain. However, if it continues to grow, the enterprise would be forced to review it’s historic strategy and start to compete on quality of customer experience instead of the traditional 4 pillars of marketing.

 

 

Customer Experience is the “New” Marketing

customer experience is the new Marketing Sincerity and competence are the currencies of customer interaction. Consumers may sometimes engage with a brand after seeing clever commercials or hearing a catchy jingle, but they are not very likely continue to be the customers after they encounter indifference and incompetence

Nowadays brands wrestle with the challenge of engaging customers, but they fail to deploy the most powerful weapon in their arsenal – their employees. Instead they employ slick campaigns and technology to shield the employees from the customers. I infer they do it to save cost, but considering the expense of their marketing activities and questionable results they often produce, an investment in quality employees may be much better choice.

I wrote before about my customer experience with Nissan, the brand considered by many to be a competent marketing player. Every time Nissan marketing attempted to engage with me, they created a desire to severe my relationship with the brand. Every offer for service they mailed was accompanied by frustration with my inability to make an appointment without a switchboard hassle. The new “loyalty” program email, outsourced to a “specialist” company and signed by its president, sent me through another phone tree hell. You really do not need an expert to figure out that an email with do-not-respond return address is NOT a great way to grow loyalty! All these marketing shenanigans drove me to do my car service at any place but the Nissan dealership that paid for them.

Recently, my car keyless car entry dongle started to lose its power and I needed to replace the battery. The auto parts stores and a garage, where I went to do an oil change, could not help me. I stopped by the dealership to setup an appointment and was blown away with their sincere desire to help and the competence of the people I met there. When I recall all 3 interactions I had with the dealership employees over the years of my relationship with Nissan, every one of them was extremely positive. Next time I am there, I should explore an opportunity to remove my name and address from their marketing list. If this is possible, I may consider buying my next car there.

This is only one example, but this problem is not limited to Nissan. Our analysis of customer reviews  shows traces of this problem experienced by customers of many other brands.

Technology can be a very powerful weapon, but if it is used by a company to shield its employees from its customers, it will backfire, as both the customers and the best employees will leave the company in frustration. Marketing is about trust and the companies that hide behind technology will not be trusted.