For some bizarre reason as I lay in bed last night I got to thinking about whether tribalism plays a role in our day to day choices as customers. You know...like the tribalism in football.
What is it they say? 'You don't choose your team, it chooses you' ...and then that's it. You have to stick with them no matter what... follow that team through a series of bad managers...up and down leagues...playing like Brazil one week and Barrow-in-Furness the next. Ask any Man City...or Leeds fan what it's like...no consistency of product, service or price...a volatile customer experience you might say.
And yet, there they are, week after week, in their thousands, often tens of thousands, not just supporting, but actively promoting their chosen 'brand'...wearing their scarves and shirts with pride no matter how poor the 'product' on the pitch. Go to Newcastle on a match day and I challenge you to find more than 3 in 10 people who are not wearing the black and white stripes...it's no wonder that companies want to promote themselves through football sponsorship.
But does tribalism exist in our other product and service choices. Do we stick with a company, or an individual regardless of the quality of service because..? Well, because we've always used them/ worked with them? Maybe our parents introduced us at an early age, and we wouldn't dream of 'switching sides' because it would be 'disloyal'?
Is that why we are often McDonald's or Burger King, Pepsi or Coca Cola, Virgin or BA, Tesco or Sainsbury? Do we become so loyal to the brand that we overlook poor service or poor quality, choosing to believe that they're just going through a bad patch and they'll get it right next time?
I don't know, maybe I'm alone in this. Maybe I'm just a soft muppet who is way too loyal for her own good, and all of you have got it sussed. It'd be good to know though...! ;o)
One brand that won't be the recipient of my undying loyalty, is the wonderful Blak Pearl, who I wrote to you about last week. I finally received a reply to my letter requesting a refund for the 'cocktail evening' with Sir Richard Branson - a chance to network and learn from this super successful entrepreneur - to which he came for a full two and a half minutes, and for which I had travelled to London specially and paid the princely sum of £79! The letter, entitled 'compensation' told me how delighted they were to offer me a complementary ticket to Business 2012 in November [entry is already free!], and a £5 entry to a workshop that is usually £89 [that I have absolutely no desire to go to]. You may be surprised to hear that I declined their kind offer and once again requested my refund. The saga continues...
This week I went to a free three-day event.
Business 2012 at the O2 brought together literally thousands of entrepreneurs and new business owners, and treated them to a series of keynote speakers - Sirs Richard Branson and Alan Sugar to name but two; a number of other self-made individuals willing to share their secrets; practical workshops; and a superb exhibition with stands ranging from basic legal and business admin, to marketing and promotion (the Google stand was permanently packed) and self development.
What a brilliant idea! And all of this for free? What great value...?
Sadly not. This was a brilliant idea very badly executed by the event managers Blak Pearl (a name which seemed a little too apt for me at the end of day one).
What Blak Pearl had done extremely well was pull together their list of A and B list speakers; a whole host of exhibitors armed with special offers and freebies for those who attended; promoted their product through their website and a series of almost daily e mails to those who had either expressed an interest or signed up to the event; and pre-issued an e-ticket with the capability for smart phone registration. All good.
What they had failed to do was think about their customers and what needed to be done to ensure that they had a great experience. As a result they lost the good will of their customers and received a hail storm of bad press on twitter, facebook and other social media sites. And this after a ‘free’ event.
A simple walk through their plan from a customer’s viewpoint would have eradicated most, if not all of the problems...
Blak Pearl had failed to consider that what they were offering was not considered to be ‘free’ by customers who had to travel to get there; spend time away from their business; miss Mother’s Day! These things are precious.
Blak Pearl’s bad PR during and after the event is a lesson for any one of us who believes that our customers, if given something for free, expect anything less than good value.
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)