Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Servicing Search: A Better Ad Model?

If you search a typical wireless provider on Google, you'll receive 40 million or more search results. If you filter the query and add the word "service," you'll get roughly half as many results. In addition you'll find 25 to 40 percent of all the indexed content is in the first person, which means it's a form of CGM (define).

The customer service topic drives a disproportionate amount of CGM content creation. This service-centered commentary reroutes itself to curious, unsuspecting consumers via search.In some cases, it may bring consumers closer to the brand; in other cases it pushes them away.

Viewed in this light, it becomes obvious that customer service is about far more than just satisfying consumers. It's equally about priming, positioning, and ultimately painting the brand's public billboard.

In this era of word-of-mouth and search, the stakes for getting the customer service equation right are enormously high. Consumers love to talk about service, and they leave a digital trail in the process. As we ponder media's future and optimizing marketing spending, it may well prove a far more efficient, high-return investment than pouring more money into paid media.

Although there are many levers or activities a brand can pursue to have a material effect on service perception, you should first home in on what I call the I's of customer service: the invitation, the interface, and the interaction.

  • The Invitation
    The invitation is about the right first impression. Does the brand care enough to hear my voice? Does it really want my feedback? Is my voice valued?
  • The Interface
    The interface gets to the heart of usability, simplicity, and a sense of genuine empowerment. Is it easy to provide feedback? Can I get through the process without a hitch?
  • The Interaction
    The actual interaction hits deeper consumer-brand connection drivers. Did the service interface or representative actually address the issue? In what way?

Each of these key dimensions of the service experience affects consumer attitudes and feeling toward the brand. Those feelings, in turn, drive varying levels of advocacy and CGM creation, which in turn finds new audience via search. Remember, you are what they search.

~Servicing Search: A Better Ad Model? By Pete Blackshaw March 20, 2007

No comments: