Asking and observing consumers as an effective way to build brand loyalty

To start thinking about consumer engagement as a “marketer”, I think it is important to think about it first as a consumer, so I did it and started remembering some episodes of my life and I did not have to go so far back in time to remember some really bad experiences. Here is one:

  • Context: I am from Colombia and I am living in Australia for at least two years so before living I had to cancel all my service contracts including off course, my cell phone service contract. Before coming to Australia I did so. Two months after I left it turned out I still had my contract on and I had to call myself and cancel it. So I did. Here is the conversation with the gentleman after 25 minutes waiting on the line (It is important to say that each minute on this international call cost 3 dollars):
  • Me: Hello Sr. I would like to cancel my line, I thought I had done it before but apparently I haven’t, so please cancel my contract.
  • Gentleman: Estefania, why are you cancelling your line?
  • Me: I am living in Australia for at least two years so I won’t use it and I don’t need it.
  • Gentleman: But Mss. Estefania we can offer you a really good deal on an international roaming plan. Please let me explain..
  • Me (interrupting): No thank you, I am not interested, I already have a contract here in Australia, I just want to cancel the one I have in Colombia.
  • Gentleman: Estefania but you can leave the line up for when you come back and meanwhile somebody else can use it.
  • Me: No thank you, I am not paying you fifty bucks per month for a service I am not using, please just cancel my line.
  • Gentleman: Estefania we are offering you a great deal on international roaming..(At this stage it had passed thirty-five minutes, which means more than a hundred dollars).
  • Me: Please Sr. I just need to cancel my line, no plans, no international roaming, nothing. Please cancel my contract.

This went on for another fifteen minutes until I got really upset and the gentleman finally agreed to cancel my line. This was a really bad experience and I don’t care how good their service is, I do not want my line with them ever again. Just like that. Brands normally take a lot of time, years, building a sustainable and stable relationship with their clients and can break it up in just two minutes, or fifteen or thirty-five, just like that.

“Customer Engagement: The Best of The Best” (Forbes Insights complete article) talks about how to make consumers happy can be confusing, of course it is, what is more confusing than happiness? But that is why brands cannot assume, as the article says, asking is way more effective than assuming. To observe human’s behavior is not as hard as it sounds and digital and technological tools out there makes it even easier. Brands cannot take anything for granted, they have always the mission to not only achieve but exceed consumer’s expectations and experiences. The article also gives some great examples about how some brands really connect with their users and add value to the product or service they offer. There is not point on citing here all this examples, but I would highlight my favourite one, which was Societe de Transport de Montreal (STM) and their way to enhance and convert a tedious process that sometimes is taking public transportations, into an unique and as the article says, less governmental experience. Better than my words I leave you this promotional video that fully explain how to transmit the concept FUN: Promotional video on Societe de Transport De Montreal (STM)’s location-based mobile solution: MERCI.

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4 thoughts on “Asking and observing consumers as an effective way to build brand loyalty

  1. The story about your interaction with the phone provider was interesting – can I ask, do you feel that you were an ‘engaged’ consumer with this phone provider before this interaction? Is there anything they could have done to keep you engaged? Do you have a brand that you strongly engage with – what does ‘engagement’ mean to you as a consumer?

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    1. Hey Teagan, thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post. Now that you ask I think that I could not say that I felt engaged with the phone provider before, but I was happy with the service and let’s say was my favorite among all the others I had used before. I think they should have been more understanding about the situation that I explained to the gentleman more than five times. From your questions I analyzed myself a little bit deeply as a consumer and I found that for example I have felt really engaged with Apple since I had my first Ipod, which was many years ago, I love the brand, since Iphone was released I have never had a different type of phone, I always try to convince people to use Iphone instead of Samsung, but I don’t follow them in any social media, no Instagram, no Twitter, no Facebook. Do they even have an official account?

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  2. Hi Estefania,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post.
    I think maybe one of the biggest problems in the scenario you described was that your Columbian phone provider didn’t provide a free phone-helpline and didn’t have enough staff to answer your call quickly.
    The company seems to have been trying to engage with you and to understand how they could serve you better as a consumer but the fact that this engagement was coming at a huge cost to you both financially and in terms of time is quite inexcusable and I’m not surprised you have sworn never to return! I think one important lesson I learned from your blog is that you have to engage with consumers in a way that provides benefit to the consumer.
    Do you think your experience would have been different if your call was answered instantly and you weren’t being charged for it?

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    1. Hi Amelia, thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my post. I think you are right, probably the impact would not been that harmful if instead of calling from overseas I was calling from Colombia and the call was free. But still, I think brands also need to sometimes get out of the prescribed script of call-centers and fully listen and understand consumers’ needs. Thanks again!

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