Marketing truth: 99% of customers don’t care, until they do

Hang this message above every marketer’s desk, it will set them free.

(As seen and posed for on my walking commute through Boston.)

This is the true persona of almost every customer in their natural state.  They’re not thinking about the product that all your colleagues wish they were.  They don’t want a social media relationship with it, or the fine company behind the thing. And their ‘customer journey’ never begins or ends with anyone’s product.  They have a life, we have products or services — and success is dealing with consumers in the 1% of their time when they give a damn.

Content isn’t king. Customers who give a damn are. 

They don’t answer sales calls, or read marketing emails. Logging in to your customer portal is too hard for them, let alone downloading a new app that has no visible ongoing value for them.  There is a 99%+ chance that at any given moment, they really truly don’t care.

Until they do care. Then these same ambivalent consumers require a level of simplicity that allows them to multitask while you address their need. Or, if their need is urgent, they need the kind of immedciacy normally provided by an Indy pitcrew. Design teams at Google have three named states of mobile customers: bored, distractied or urgent. In the age of Customer Rex, convenience and helpfulness rule all.

I can not tell you, no seriously there are NDAs involved, how many organizations I know hide their phone number from customners on their web pages because their call centers are terrible.  People who wait on hold hours have endless time and motive to damage these brands in social media, and of course they become damaged goods to their buyers. Amazingly, they decide that being hard to reach is better than what follows.

Deloitte tells us consumers are 2.3 times more likely to switch to competitors after a single poor customer experience. And New Voice Media calculates that $75 billion a year are lost by organizations due to frustrating or difficult customer interactions.

That’s why this message that customers care episodically is so important. Companies need to focus on the brief, predictable moments when customers care intensly, and make that their moment of brand truth. Doing the research to know what consumer’s seek at these times is the key to relationships. After all, everyu customer is the hero of their own story. At most we can hope to their sword, or nourishment, or comfort.  We enable one step in their larger story to get something done in life that probably isn’t about us or our product specifically.

That’s liberating, these interactions are so small that we can phase out lots of other corporate nonsense until they are aced.

Companies who are loved win. It just takes winning in the small portion of life where we really make a difference.


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