Jim Dicso Thu May 10, 2012

The word “wow” is beginning to occupy a ubiquitous spot in CMO strategy decks, previously reserved for old standbys like “customer advocacy” and “customer engagement.” But a common misperception is that the wow customer experience cannot be delivered at scale and done so cost effectively.

Clearly, wow’s time is now.

What strikes me as I listen to marketing leaders chronicle their strategies is the very different ways these generally like-minded executives define the word.  For some, delivering a “wow” means doing something extravagant for a customer who wasn’t expecting it.  For others, delivering a wow means providing fast, reliable service and doing it more quickly than was previously possible.  For yet another, providing a wow means mobilizing substantial human and financial resources in an effort to make up for a failure in service to a high-value customer.

As widely as these definitions differ, there are a few common themes:

  1. A “wow” experience communicates the importance of the customer’s relationship with the company.
  2. A “wow” means treating the customer as an individual rather than a member of a segment or group.
  3. A “wow” experience is one that’s intensely relevant to the customer at that moment in time.

Marketing executives also associate the “wow” with significant – sometimes prohibitive – expense, so the experience is often reserved only for a company’s very best customers.

One marketing executive, whose company occasionally picks up its best customers plane-side in luxury vehicles, questions how sustainable this type of experience is.  He wondered if the customer treated to this experience will begin to expect it and later become disappointed to find that it’s meant as a “once in a relationship” wow.  They’re setting the bar pretty high here.  How expensive will it be to continue finding ways to jump over it?

A banking executive recently told me that her company delivers a wow to a subset of its customers by having a special 800-number that goes directly to a real person, bypassing IVRs and hold music all together. But, to paraphrase her, do you have any idea how much more expensive it is to have them go directly to a rep, instead of spending just one minute on holdIt’s expensive enough that we need to see an awful lot of value from these customers to continue to provide that level of service.

For those who view a SmartVideo, the word “wow” is at least as common in the survey verbatim as the word “engagement” is in marketing decks, which is to say it’s everywhere.

The true beauty of SmartVideo is that it’s cost effective enough to be sustainable over the long term, allowing companies to deliver repeated “wows” to their entire customer population, rather than only on occasion and to a select few.  And while even the most ardent proponent of SmartVideo wouldn’t compare it to a chauffeured ride from a plane in a luxury automobile, it’s a great way to engender proven advocacy and engagement in the customer base.  If the strategy decks I’ve seen lately are any indication, advocacy and engagement are what it’s all about.


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