As APB closes its doors, after less than 80 days, a game which had truly awful reviews and blog posts made about it as a game, I’m starting to consider that the negative cumulative impact of information might be just as worthy of consideration as the positive. I usually, indeed, marketing in general, usually, considers the typical marketing hype machine that most products use; the spending of millions on trying to generate a buzz regarding the product, in a pretty linear way. Product + online marketing money = more sales. This involves viral marketing videos, social media, specifically targeting leading blogs with free product and so forth. In other words the marketing machine those who are either familiar with online games, or are researching the area, are generally familiar with. The forward gears are well documented in their success; but what if you slip the clutch and put the marketing hype car into reverse? I’ve read about some of the great marketing disasters before (New Coke). But sometimes the speed at which customers in the internet age seem to generate a word-of-mouth death-knell for a product reminds me that, as fast at the positive top speed of modern marketing is, the internet also allows for toxic product or service information and brand damaging information to be transmitted with equal speed.
One of the best known ratios in service quality and marketing is the 3:7 ratio. Studies have shown that the typical customer who has a good experience will tell three of his friends, those same studies show that the typical customer will tell seven of his friends about his bad experiences. It’s a great inditement of typical human behaviour isn’t it, and says a lot about what people like to talk about. Anyway, some of the most interesting things I see is the way in which the internet and social media completely change that ratio.
At the recent Social Media Conference I was at an attendee was telling me about how Dell had an issue in that, at one point, if you put the search word “Dell” into Google, the top hit was their corporate website, but the 2nd hit on the search was “Dell Hell”. This was very angry customer’s blog, Dwight Silverman, which ranted on about how bad Dell’s customer service with him had been. If you know anything about how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works, you’ll appreciate that the sheer weight of people going to the blog to read his rants must have been enormous (apparently near 3m people read his blog post entitled “Dell lies, Dell sucks”) to power him to the No 2 slot. Did Dell respond, yes! Funny enough, they even went as far as employing the blogger as a consultant for their customer relations department, indeed, this could be a success story of good customer relations (or, at the very least, damage limitation!)… but I’d rather look at it as the power of the slighted customer to spit back.
With the huge increase in internet-capable smartphone usage, and statistics showing that over half the internet usage on smartphones is social media based, I think it’s easy to see my case. If I had a bad customer service experience with a company, I’d probably make a status update on Facebook about it and suddenly we’d have my entire friends list (about 80 people) knowing about this. And that’s just a normal Joe Blogger. Imagine if Stephan Fry Twittered to his half a million or so followers that he found a certain product had poor service quality, and they re-tweeted about his tweet… and… well, you get the picture. This works for all sorts of products; particularly holidays I’ve found. Many of the lecturers I know use a website called Tripadvisor. Before booking a holiday I always check Tripadvisor and read the hotels reviews and generally, on the weighting of the number of stars people given it, you can get quite a good idea of the sorts of things to expect. I can just imagine the horror of the travel and tourism industry at the concept of literally millions of people reading all those (sometimes truly awful) travel reviews and making their purchase choices based on those.
Perhaps it’s time to re-examine the 3:7 ratio in the modern era.
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